LEE COUNTY, Fla. — School board election results are showing voters selecting candidates Gov. Ron DeSantis explicitly endorsed. Three of those candidates are in southwest Florida — two in Lee County and one in Hendry.
Close to two hours after polls closed, the Republican governor spoke in Miami and reiterated part of his message he'd used to promote the candidates he endorsed.
"We’re teaching them to read, write, add, subtract – all the important subjects," DeSantis said. "Not trying to jam woke gender ideologies down their throats. Not trying to do divisive rhetoric like CRT (Critical Race Theory) that’s teaching kids to hate each other and our country."
One candidate, who's echoed this message is Lee County candidate Armor Persons. He beat incumbent Gwynetta Givens, who currently holds the seat for District 5.
Persons won with 55-percent of the vote. His campaign centered on teacher retention, school safety, opposing Critical Race Theory, and what he calls "gender issues."
For a candidate to win and not head to the November election, they need to have a 50-percent majority vote, plus one.
Two candidates from District 4 will head to the November ballot. Dan Severson is a few hundred votes ahead of incumbent and current school board chair Debbie Jordan. Severson is a former Minnesota representative who has pushed to remove CRT. Charlie Crist has endorsed Jordan, who says if she's re-elected, she'll continue to meet the needs of all students.
For District 1, DeSantis endorsed Sam Fisher and will face Kathy Fanny. Fisher's focused on parents being heard, cutting administration budgets, and raising teacher pay. Fanny's top priority is better financial support for schools.
In Hendry County, one candidate is endorsed by DeSantis. It's an extremely tight race, which will likely head to the General Election. Stephanie Busin is slightly ahead of Joe Whitehead.
Over to Collier County in District 6, Jerry Rutherford will take on Jory Westberry in November. Currently, Westberry is the Board's vice-chair.
Kelly Lichter is beating current board president Jen Mitchell. Lichter is close to 50 percent, but not there yet. Timothy Moshier for District 5 is beating current board member Roy Terry. This will also go to the November ballot.
This is the first round of unofficial results. Some counties are still waiting for precincts to report their numbers.