Keys schools Superintendent Mark Porter won’t have Ed Davidson to kick him around anymore.
Monroe County voters ousted incumbent Davidson from the five-member School Board on Tuesday, preferring instead Mindy Conn, a former New York attorney turned mother of two living on Sugarloaf Key, by an 18-point margin.
Conn swept the Lower Keys, winning all 10 Key West precincts, along with Stock Island, Big Coppitt and Sugarloaf, according to detailed reports by Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin.
Davidson did his best in his hometown of Marathon, snapping up all precincts. Conn won four Upper Keys precincts, including Ocean Reef by 82 percent.
But unlike Conn, Davidson couldn’t top 58 percent — his personal best at the Marathon Moose Lodge — in any of the 33 precincts in the Keys. Conn took 20 precincts to Davidson’s 12. The two tied at precinct 28 in Key Largo.
In choosing Conn over the one-term incumbent for District 3, voters also removed from office the School Board’s top critic when it comes to Porter’s performance and administrators’ work.
In the most recent set of evaluations of Porter by board members compiled in December, Davidson stood alone by rating poorly the superintendent hired in 2012 on an overall scale of 1-5. While his colleagues handed Porter overall scores of 3 and above, between “accomplished” and proficient,” Davidson graded Porter a 1.67, with one being “not acceptable.”
Moments after learning of his defeat Tuesday night, Davidson said many Keys residents who support him were out of town, adding his loss isn't a “repudiation” of anything he did on the School Board.
“I've got two more months,” said Davidson, whose tenure included accusing the company that built the new Horace O’Bryant School in Key West of price gouging and questioning Porter’s integrity after he reassigned a principal after a scandal over $21,000 in cash disappearing from a day-care program.
Davidson this month said Porter isn’t the right person for the superintendent’s job, blasting him after learning Porter was job-seeking.
On Conn, Davidson didn’t exactly congratulate the political newcomer.
“Being nice to people doesn't always make them behave better,” he said, adding that her law degree may help her keep watch over the district’s financial handling.
“I don’t need to be a watch dog,” Conn said. She said she will do her homework on board issues and rejected Davidson’s chosen nickname.
Conn spent nearly all the $21,000 she raised, a figure that includes about $7,200 in donated goods for events, while Davidson spent more than $18,000 of his largely self-funded campaign that compiled $28,650, the latest campaign finance records show.
In Florida, voters elect school boards in nonpartisan races. The District 3 race drew 15,660 voters in Monroe, with 9,210 going to Conn while Davidson collected 6,450. Of the three countywide elections Tuesday, this one drew the most by a few hundred votes.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen