Hillsborough County School Board member Cindy Stuart will run for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court, she announced Monday.
Stuart is running to replace incumbent Pat Frank, who is retiring at the end of her term.
“I want to build upon the work of Pat Frank and her staff and continue to enhance access to the clerk of the circuit court through technology,” Stuart said. “Under Pat Frank’s 16 years as clerk, taxpayers received accountability, proficiency and leadership, with high ethical standards. I commit to continue in this tradition. That’s why I have received Pat Frank’s support as she plans to retire.”
Stuart enters the race with support from Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller, who had previously been planning to run for the seat before deciding to instead retire.
That endorsement positions Stuart well for another endorsement from Frank herself. Frank had endorsed Miller before he decided not to run and she’s unlikely to endorse Stuart’s primary opponent, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner.
Becker ran against Frank in 2016 and waged what many in the Democratic Party believed to be a dirty campaign attacking Frank even as she grieved the loss of her adult daughter, though the campaign did temporarily suspend campaign activity following the death.
“In these unprecedented times, we are focused on two objectives: First, making sure our family and friends are safe and healthy while also using our campaign network to help keep neighbors informed with COVID-19 information and available resources. At the same time, we continue to build a diverse county-wide coalition of voters who have twice elected me to public office and are representative of our community at large,” Beckner said in a statement. “Our campaign is prepared to compete at the highest level and I am thankful for the over 300 individual contributors, labor unions, elected officials, and community leaders who have given and are supporting my campaign thus far.”
Stuart has served eight years on the Hillsborough County School Board, the nation’s 7th largest district with a nearly $3 billion budget.
Stuart has helped lead the district through some tough times including implementing policies to shore up the district’s aging transportation system and fleet, increasing vocational programs and improving the district’s financial outlook.
The size of the district, the complexity of its finances, its large workforce and the variety of services it offers has prepared her to lead the clerk’s office, Stuart said.
Stuart serves on boards for the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Safe and Sound Hillsborough, Glazer Children’s Museum, Metropolitan Planning Organization and the School Transportation Working Group.
One Republican is also in the race — D.C. Goutoufas.
Stuart has some catching up to do. Beckner has already raised nearly $100,000. The primary election is August 18, leaving Stuart with only a few months to raise funds and at a time where candidates are unable to engage in traditional campaigning as people are practicing social distancing to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Still, the race is likely to be heated as some Democrats look for an alternative to Beckner.