2 attorneys vying for Palm Beach County School Board seat

Edwin Ferguson and Corey Michael Smith hoping to represent District 7
Edwin Ferguson and Corey Michael Smith, candidates for the Palm Beach County School Board District 7 seat, Nov. 7, 2022.jpg
Posted at 6:14 AM, Nov 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-08 06:14:43-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After more than 20 years serving on the Palm Beach County School Board, Dr. Debra Robinson is not running for re-election, leaving her seat open for a new member to join the school board.

The district represents Riviera Beach and other areas of the county, and two local attorneys want the spot.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Decision 2022 | WPTV Voter Information Guide

On Election Day, voters will choose between Edwin Ferguson and Corey Michael Smith. The two ran in the primary with a third candidate, Chris Persaud, but no one received more than 50% of the vote.

Ferguson had 43% and Smith had almost 42%.

Both Ferguson and Smith are graduates of the School District of Palm Beach County and have children in the school system. They both want to prioritize early childhood education.

Ferguson calls the school board the most important office you can hold in Palm Beach County. He said one thing that sets him apart is his "ability to collaborate with people of different political views and opinions and other differences."

"I think we need to allow more people to come to the table of discussion for the betterment of our students," Ferguson said. "We can’t just have one voice anymore. We need to have a multitude of voices for the purpose of doing what’s in the best interest of children."

Ferguson feels he is best for the job because of his ability to collaborate with very different people.

"It’s not about the R or the D or the NDA. It’s about E, education," Ferguson said. "Every policy that I will fight to implement will be based on what’s in the best interest of our children."

Both men also see school safety as a priority, but view it a little differently. Ferguson is in favor of metal detectors.

"I'd like to see us wand everyone down, from the principal to the school campus visitor, because you don’t know what package evil is going to come in," Ferguson said.

Smith, meanwhile, said he does not want schools to look or feel like prisons.

"I think we have to address it holistically and in nuance ways, as opposed to a bludgeon. We can’t overreact to things," Smith said. "We have to be thoughtful and not reactionary."

Smith said his experience in education law makes him uniquely qualified for the job.

"20 years in the legal realm of education and in my private practice doing educational work the past 11 years, so it felt like a good fit. And I always wanted to give back to my community," Smith said. "I can hit the ground running because I don’t have to learn ethics or public records and that kind of thing. That is all familiar to me because I’ve not only done it on an administrative side, but I’ve counseled clients on those things in my legal practice. So when you combine all those things and the fact that I’m a parent who actually cares about this system and I’m a product of the system and my kids are in the system, that’s why I say I’m uniquely qualified for this seat."

Smith's family has been in the community for decades, he said.

"I want people to know I care about the kids," Smith said. "I’m doing this not because I want political power or I want a seat on a board. I’m doing this because I actually care about the kids and I’ve been given and earned the skills that I have and the work that I’ve done and I think that I can provide and be a beacon, not only for kids in District 7."

Ferguson said he has "the ability to bring people from very divergent areas of the county with one common goal, to improve our public school system."

"I think I’m the candidate that best embodies that, and if I’m elected as the next school board member, the voters in Palm Beach County will see that in short fashion as well," Ferguson said.

Ferguson is the husband of ESPN 106.3 sports anchor Keli Ferguson.

WPTV DMA Congressional District Map