Frank Barbieri endorses Mindy Koch as his preferred Palm Beach School Board successor
Image via Mindy Koch.

Mindy Koch
‘Her focus is student-centered.’

Former Palm Beach Democratic Party Chair Mindy Koch’s bid for the Palm Beach County School Board now carries an endorsement from the person she hopes to succeed.

Koch’s campaign announced a nod from Frank Barbieri, a Democrat-turned-independent who said two years ago that he wouldn’t seek a fifth term this year.

In a statement accompanying a Koch camp press note, Barbieri cited their shared belief that “education is a pathway to opportunity.”

“Her focus is student-centered,” Barbieri said. “For the two decades I have known Mindy, she has been an advocate for students, parents, and teachers and for the highest quality education for every Palm Beach County student.”

Koch launched her campaign for the District 5 seat on the Palm Beach School Board on May 1, the same day she resigned as Chair of the county’s Democratic Executive Committee (DEC). She complained in a letter to Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried of “internal battles” within the DEC, including “MAGA tactics” some of its members employed to deny she was rightfully elected Chair.

Koch, a retired teacher, union leader and longtime Democratic activist, won the position by a single vote in 2022. Her less than two-year stint leading the party was rife with turmoil as she clashed with other DEC members.

In March, Fried suspended her alongside Miami-Dade Chair Robert Dempster and Franklin Chair Carol Barfield. Fried said it was part of an “overall strategy to get our local parties back on track.”

Three weeks later, however, the Florida Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee reinstated her after not enough of its members voted for her permanent removal.

Koch’s campaign says she has more than 40 years of classroom teaching experience and also worked as an assistant principal. She holds a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University.

Others endorsing Koch, according to her campaign website, include Sens. Tina Polsky and Lori Berman; Reps. Kelly Skidmore and Katherine Waldron; Tax Collector Anne Gannon; Boca Raton Council members Andy Thompson and Yvette Drucker; and Port Commissioner Jean Enright.

She also has the support of the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast AFL-CIO, Palm Beach Classroom Teachers Association and the National Organization for Women.

Four others are running to replace Barbieri. Three are Republicans: Gloria Branch, a business development consultant and the daughter of former Superintendent Art Johnson; engineer Mike Letsky; and economics professor Suzanne Page, who also ran for the District 5 seat in 2020 with financial support from the Palm Beach County GOP.

Democratic teacher-turned-business and event management consultant Charman Postel is running as well.

The School Board is technically nonpartisan, as are its races, meaning all candidates will be on the Aug. 20 Primary ballot. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will compete in the Nov. 5 General Election.

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this report errantly said Barbieri is a Democrat. He is a former Democrat and now has no party affiliation.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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