Joe Faherty wins first term on Citrus County School Board

linda powers Joe Faherty
Four years ago, Powers won the election outright with 55% of the vote over three Primary challengers.

Citrus County voters decided a change was needed on the School Board, sending longtime school resource deputy Joe Faherty to office over four-term incumbent Linda Powers.

With all precincts reporting, Faherty won with 57% of the vote.

Citrus County’s only School Board race pitted an 18-year incumbent against a challenger who is no stranger to schools himself.

Incumbent Powers hoped to earn a full fifth term in office by overcoming her second-place finish in the District 5 Primary to Faherty.

Faherty finished first with 31% of the vote in August, enough to top the four-person Primary field but far short of the 50%-plus-1 needed to avoid the runoff.

Faherty, who retires later this month after 20-plus years as a Citrus County Sheriff’s school resource deputy, made his first attempt at elected office.

His focus was school safety, saying that during his law enforcement career in the schools he brought numerous issues to principals that led to safety improvements.

Powers, a retired school counselor, emphasized providing help for mental health issues among students, especially in their early elementary school years.

To avoid being the first incumbent in 10 years to lose re-election, Powers had to overcome a Primary result that left her behind Faherty. She finished just 731 votes ahead of the third-place finisher.

Four years ago, Powers won the election outright with 55% of the vote over three Primary challengers.

While their issues were similar, Faherty and Powers took different fundraising paths.

Faherty shows $22,825 in collections, including $900 in candidate loans. His contributors include former School Board members Kevin Cunningham and Lou Miele, and former Rep. Jimmie T. Smith, whose then-aide, Dawn Faherty, is Joe Faherty’s wife.

Faherty also received a $1,000 post-Primary check from the Citrus County Education Association (CCEA), the teachers union. The CCEA’s pick in the Primary, Deborah Daniels, finished third.

Faherty has spent campaign funds on advertising, social media, signs and mail pieces.

Powers’ fundraising total is similar — $21,190 — though she loaned the campaign $13,000 of that.

While Faherty has eight individual $1,000 donations, Powers has none. The largest individual check to Powers’ campaign was $400.

Powers has also spent money on advertising and campaign signs.

The last Citrus County School Board incumbent to lose re-election was Bill Murray in 2012. The woman who defeated him, Susan Hale, resigned just two months into office.

Mike Wright

Mike Wright is a former reporter with the Citrus County Chronicle, where he had covered county government and politics since 1987. Mike's skills as an investigative reporter earned him first-place awards in investigative writing. Mike also helped the Chronicle win the Frances Devore Award for Public Service in 2002.


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