Tampa businessman Steve Cona is off to a fast start in the days since he launched his bid for the open District 1 seat on the Hillsborough School Board.
In his first campaign finance report, which will include transactions through June 22, sources close Cona’s campaign says he will report more than $32,000 raised. Assuming that money was raised and not loaned, that’s quite a tally for an 11-day stretch.
The Hillsborough native was the first candidate to enter the School Board race, putting in his paperwork the same day the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections announced it had accepted a resign-to-run letter from longtime School Board member Susan Valdes, who is now a candidate for House District 62.
Cona is the president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, a position he has held for five years. He and his wife, Audra, have two children enrolled in Hillsborough public schools. Though School Board races are nonpartisan, Cona is a Republican who once ran for Hillsborough County Commission.
He and two other candidates, Gil Machin and William Person, have qualified for the ballot. A fourth candidate, Aaron Komarek, failed to qualify ahead of the noon Friday deadline.
Person, a retired school district administrator, moved his campaign over from the District 6 race. He ran for the District 1 seat two years ago and came within 267 votes of defeating Valdes. Machin, a retired county social services administrator, appears to be a first-time candidate.
The special election for the District 1 School Board seat will be on the 2018 ballot alongside the regularly scheduled elections for District 2, District 4 and District 6.
District 1 covers northwestern Hillsborough, including part of Tampa and the communities of Egypt Lake, Keystone, Leto, Town ‘n’ Country and Westchase. The winner of the nonpartisan election will serve out the remainder of Valdes’ term, which runs through 2020.