Citrus County Superintendent Sam Himmel to retire after 28 years of political life

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'I think it’s time for me to get away from politics.'

For 28 years, kids were Sandra “Sam” Himmel’s passion.

First as a Citrus County School Board member, then 20 years as Superintendent of schools, Himmel always made sure decisions reflected on how they affected the classroom.

Come January 2025, someone else will be making those calls.

Himmel, who turns 70 in October, announced she would be retiring at the end of this year, ending a successful political career in which she never lost an election.

“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” Himmel said. “I love what I do. My decision makes me so sad.”

The Just Wright Citrus blog first reported Himmel’s decision on its Facebook page.

Himmel immediately turned her support to Scott Hebert, assistant superintendent of schools, who announced his candidacy Friday afternoon.

Himmel’s father was the late Walt Connors, an iconic Inverness political figure who served 18 years as Citrus County Clerk of Court.

Himmel, a Citrus High School graduate and teacher, served eight years on the School Board before deciding to run for Superintendent in 2004. She was handily re-elected in each election since then.

She said she wants to focus more on her grandchildren.

“I think it’s time for me to get away from politics,” she said.

Hebert, assistant superintendent for school operations, was the 1999 Florida Teacher of the Year. He’s been a teacher, school counselor, principal, director and chief academic officer before his appointment to assistant superintendent in 2023.

“I appreciate the accomplishments achieved as a result of Mrs. Himmel’s leadership in our district,” he said. “I am committed to build on these successes and strive to enhance our district for the next generation.”

Himmel said that, while there’s been a few bumps along the way, Citrus County citizens backed her leadership.

“I think people trusted us, or they trusted me,” she said. “They trust the school system.”

Himmel, the 2020 Florida Superintendent of the Year, said the key is forming relationships with parents, teachers, students and community leaders.

“I’ll always talk about relationships,” she said. “I know God placed me here. The number of people who have been placed in my life have been wonderful for me.”

Hebert, she said, is perfect to follow her.

“Scott worked his way up through the district, and he’s been involved in the community,” she said. “I know he has a passion for it.”

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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