Rene Flowers is endorsing Laura Hine in her bid to replace JoAnne Lentino on the Pinellas County School Board.
Flowers is currently a member of the school board, and is running in November for Pinellas County Commission. In her endorsement, Flowers credits Hine’s passion for accessible, quality public education.
“Public schools are the backbone for the majority of our scholars,” Flowers said in a news release. “It is imperative that we have a representative on the board who believes in public education and who will hold to the construct that every child and adult learner deserves a quality education in a safe, clean and well equipped learning environment.”
Flowers’ statement is a dig on Hine’s opponent, Stephanie Meyer, who is a private school teacher who supports school choice. The race is non-partisan, but Democrats are breaking for Hine while Republicans are supporting Meyer. School choice is typically a conservative priority.
Hine is currently the executive director of The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, and earned her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from the University of South Florida.
“Laura Hine has shown that she is that person based on her community involvement, her service in the area of education particularly with elementary age children and her devotion to expanding programs that have proven to aide in changing the dynamics of the district the areas of equity, restorative practices, student engagement, teacher pay and recruitment,” Flowers said.
Hine faces Meyer in the Nov. 3 runoff following the Primary Election, where neither candidate took the majority of the vote. In the primaries for the district-wide seat, Hine took 43.83% of the vote, while Meyer collected 31.76%. A third primary candidate, Tom Topping, was eliminated after accruing just under 25% of the vote. Topping also aligns more with Democratic educational values, suggesting a good bit of his support may redirect toward Hine.
According to a recent survey from St. Pete Polls, Hine leads Meyer 37% over 30%. Still, 33% of voters are undecided.
The partisan divide 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 — and now, Flowers.