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Parents' voices heard in Palm Beach County School Board election

2 incumbents retain seats, while board member Marcia Andrews heads to runoff
The Palm Beach County School Board meets on Aug. 17, 2022.jpg
Posted at 5:03 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 17:09:09-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — There was a strong showing Tuesday from school board candidates that had Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis backing them.

Political analysts said it's the first time a Florida governor has gotten so involved in local school board races, and it's making an impact.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education | Election Results

Several school board candidates said they wanted to bring back parents' rights and parents' voices into education. And political analysts said that's exactly what happened in this election.

Two Palm Beach County School Board members are keeping their seats, beating their challengers by overwhelming numbers.

Karen Brill was victorious in District 3, which represents parts of west Delray Beach and west Boynton Beach, while Erica Whitfield easily won District 4, an area that covers parts of Boynton Beach, Lake Worth Beach, and West Palm Beach.

But the crowded field of five contenders for District 6, representing Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, and the Glades, is headed to a runoff.

RELATED: 2 Palm Beach County School Board races headed to runoff

"It gives me encouragement to know that people know the school district is doing a great job," said District 6 board member Marcia Andrews, who's running for her fourth term.

WATCH: WPTV speaks to Palm Beach County School Board member Marcia Andrews

WPTV speaks to Palm Beach County School Board member Marcia Andrews

The career educator will face off against parental rights advocate Jen Showalter in the November election.

Palm Beach County School Board candidate Jen Showalter speaks at an Aug. 17, 2022 board meeting.jpg
Palm Beach County School Board candidate Jen Showalter speaks at an Aug. 17, 2022 board meeting.

"When you have five candidates, it will more than likely be a runoff," Andrews said. "But I was thrilled, happy, and excited to have almost 50%, 49% of the vote in District 6."

Showalter was not available to speak to WPTV on Wednesday, but sent a statement that looks at the results differently, saying, "Last night, the voters in District 6 made it clear they want a change," and adding that "By working together, we WILL restore our schools."

"Last night, the voters in District 6 made it clear they want a change. Between the four candidates, the people kept Ms. Andrews below 50%. Congrations are in order to all the candidates. We each had our own unique perspectives and backgrounds, yet were united on the foundational beliefs of accountability, communication, transparency, and a return to common sense.

Today, we start the next chapter, but first, I want to thank all of my supporters and volunteers who have been so gracious with their time, energy and contributions. Words can’t describe how grateful I am for your efforts.

Looking forward to November, we are full steam ahead to continue the work already started.

I’m calling all citizens who want to see real academic results, full transparency, real accountability, a return to respecting the Constitution, individual rights and parental rights to stand with me. I’m calling all those that voted for change, no matter which candidate, to unite.

By working together, we WILL restore our schools."

"It was very clear that the parents spoke in Palm Beach County, and they spoke in a very strong voice that said, we like the way things are," said WPTV political analyst Brian Crowley.

Crowley said that with parental rights at the center of campaigns, this school board election cycle was the first of its kind, with DeSantis getting so closely involved in these local races and parents running for office to align with his platform.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Hialeah on Aug. 23, 2022.jpg
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Hialeah on Aug. 23, 2022.

"I think each district got what the parents in that district wanted," Crowley said.

DeSantis did not officially endorse any of the Palm Beach County candidates, and Crowley explained why he believes that's the case.

"I think Ron DeSantis wisely stayed out of the Palm Beach County School District races," Crowley said. "I think he understood that there was little chance he would have success in Palm Beach County schools, again, because we are so overwhelmingly Democratic in Palm Beach County."

But the governor did do well in those more conservative counties.

Of the 30 school board candidates he endorsed, 19 won their races, including Jennifer Russell in Martin County. Six are headed to runoffs, including incumbent Jacqueline Rosario in Indian River County, and five lost their races.

"We have so many needs to take care of for our children, our staff, and our community," Andrews said.

Both candidates said it's full steam ahead to November to make their case to voters.

A second runoff election is also happening in Palm Beach County for the District 7 seat, which covers parts of West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach.

In that race, we we will have a new school board member come November, with local attorneys Edwin Ferguson and Corey Michael Smith vying for the seat that Dr. Debra Robinson is leaving after 22 years on the Palm Beach County School Board.