November’s Nassau superintendent contest money race competitive

Fundraising 2

November fundraising totals in the race for Nassau County Superintendent of Schools reveal an interesting matchup between the two main candidates in the race: GOP state Rep. Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach and Nassau School Board member Kathy Knight Burns, also a Republican.

Burns had a healthy November, out-raising Adkins at $14,820.

Adkins’ month comes in at $14,050, despite the help of high-profile allies like House Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

However, Adkins overall has double the war chest of Burns, with $64,865 in total contributions to Burns’ $34,191. The election will be held in November 2016.

The Libertarian candidate in the race, Cheryl Reynolds James, has raised a paltry $890 and is not expected to be a factor.

Adkins, who is term-limited in her District 11 seat, came to the attention of voters across the state and nation after comments she made during a closed-door Republican gathering that she thought were private were published in POLITICO in September. She was discussing the reconfiguration of Rep. Corrine Brown’s congressional district and whether the number of African-American prison inmates within its new boundaries could potentially change the outcome of an election. Among other remarks, Adkins was captured on an audio recording saying the change would be a way to ensure Brown would not be re-elected.

Adkins later apologized for the remarks. 

Among Florida’s 67 counties, more than half elect their school superintendents. The current Nassau County Superintendent, John Ruis, has not filed to run for re-election.

A glance through Adkins’ and Burns’ donors reveals contrasts. Virtually all of Burns’ contributors hail from Nassau County or Jacksonville. Current Superintendent Ruis gave $500 to her campaign this month, records show. So did Jacksonville’s Sleiman Properties.

Adkins’ donor list is statewide, with few checks coming in from Nassau. For example, the Arza Consulting Group donated $1,000 to her campaign this month. Folio Weekly readers recently learned that South Florida charter school lobbyist Ralph Arza requested a private meeting with Becki Couch, who was once chairwoman of Duval’s school board. Adkins, a proponent of charter schools, has also received money from Charter Schools USA Inc.


Melissa Ross

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at [email protected]


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