Public schools advocate Laura Hine has a healthy lead over Stephanie Meyer in the runoff for Pinellas County Schools Board District 1.
Hine leads Meyer 37% over 30%, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls.
Still, 33% of voters are undecided.
The two are running to replace School Board member Joanne Lentino who is not seeking reelection.
While the race is non-partisan and candidates’ political affiliations won’t appear on the ballot, the race pits conservative ideologies on education against more progressive views.
Meyer, a private school teacher, supports school choice, an idea often derided in liberal circles as a way to funnel public dollars into private schools or charters, which are privately operated.
The difference is apparent in the two candidates’ endorsements. Meyer has support from the Pinellas County GOP as well as local Republican elected officials like House Speaker Designate Chris Sprowls and Reps. Chris Latvala and Nick DiCeglie. Hine has endorsements from the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, the SEIU, Sierra Club and Equality Florida Action PAC, groups that typically favor Democrats.
However, the poll doesn’t bare out the partisan split.
More Democrats support Meyer than Hine with 37% of polled Democrats preferring Meyer over 33% who support Hine. Likewise, only 24% of Republicans support Meyer while 42.5% support Hine.
Hine heads into the Nov. 3 runoff with an advantage. She led the three-way primary with 44% of the vote over Meyer’s 32%. Tom Topping was knocked out of the race with just 24% of the vote.
Hine, who is married to Dali Museum Executive Director Hank Hine, will have a broad network to tap in her campaign.
Hine is a local businesswoman and public education advocate.
Hine is a Tampa native who earned her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from the University of South Florida.
She said she first became interested in education after her first child was born in 2011 and she realized the difficulties choosing schools in a county where, much like others throughout the nation, the zoned school might not be the best choice.
Hine was the founding president of Friends of North Shore Elementary I 2015, a group established to ensure all children have access to quality education with an emphasis on teacher support.
Hine also served on the Healthy School Start Time task force.
Professionally, Hine most recently served as the project director for the Tom and Mary James’ Western & Wildlife Art Museum and its adjacent commercial development.
She now serves as the executive director of the museum.