Miami-Dade Democratic Party backs Luisa Santos for County School Board

school buses
The three are competing in runoff elections for the School Board this fall.

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party has made its final endorsement in a set of three open County School Board races, backing Luisa Santos in District 9.

The local party had already endorsed Lucia Baez-Geller in District 3 and Mara Zapata in District 5.

Those contests are nonpartisan, though the Miami-Dade Democratic Party is looking to make its preference known ahead of the Nov. 3 General Election.

“We are thrilled to support Luisa Santos for School Board in District 9,” said Steve Simeonidis, who chairs the party chapter.

“Her immigrant story as a ‘Dreamer’ and now a proud U.S. Citizen is one which resonates with many residents in South Dade. It is clear that she will be an advocate for the students and teachers in the public school system which gave her a great start in the United States, and I look forward to working with her once she is on the School Board.”

The contests in District 3, 5 and 9 all went to a runoff following the Aug. 18 Primary Election. Santos secured 22% of the vote in the five-way contest on Aug. 18. She’s facing off against Dennis Moss, who earned 28% of the vote.

Moss is currently serving as a Miami-Dade County Commissioner, while Santos is the founder of Lulu’s Ice Cream.

Baez-Geller has secured plenty of Democratic support as well. Last week, a large list of Democratic elected officials endorsed her campaign.

U.S. Reps. Donna Shalala and Charlie Crist endorsed Baez-Geller, as did former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

State Sens. Oscar Braynon II, José Javier Rodríguez and Annette Taddeo are all backing Baez-Geller. House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee endorsed her as well, as did state Reps. Dan Daley, Nick Duran, Javier Fernández, Joe Geller, Michael Gottlieb, Shevrin Jones, Dotie Joseph and Emily Slosberg.

“I am honored to have the support of our elected leaders and several organizations,” Baez-Geller said. “They understand our mission to provide a high-quality education for all our students to succeed.”

Baez-Geller, a public school teacher, is battling fellow school teacher Russ Rywell for the District 3 seat. Baez-Geller placed first in the five-person field in August, securing 28% of the vote. Rywell earned 26% support.

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party has also endorsed Zapata, a Miami Springs Councilwoman, in the District 5 contest. Zapata secured a spot in the runoff, earning 38.7% of the Primary Election vote. Doral Vice Mayor Christi Fraga narrowly edged her, earning 38.9% support.

Earlier this month, the United Teachers of Dade also issued their endorsements in the three races. The group backed both Baez-Geller and Rywell in District 3, Zapata in District 5 and Moss in District 9.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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