Join Our Virtual Candidate Forums
During the week of July 13, JPEF is hosting virtual candidate forums for voters to meet School Board candidates in each of the four districts that is up for election this year. The virtual candidate forums will be held on Zoom, and registration is required. Participants who register will have a chance to submit a question for the candidates. We will also broadcast the forums on Facebook Live. Make sure to follow JPEF's Facebook page at Facebook.com/jaxpef to watch the forums there.
We are very excited to partner with some of our community's leading journalists to co-host these forums. Media co-hosts will ask questions of their own alongside JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, who will ask questions sourced from the community as well as the parents, teachers and principals JPEF supports through our leadership initiatives.
- Sign up for the District 1 Forum on Monday, July 13 here.
- Candidates: Kelly Coker, Kory Von Leue and Lew Welge.
- Co-host: Melanie Lawson of News4Jax
- Sign up for the District 3 Forum on Tuesday, July 14 here.
- Candidates: Robert Abene, Chris Guerrieri, James Jacobs and Cindy Pearson
- Sign up for the District 5 Forum on Wednesday, July 15 here.
- Warren Jones and Brenda Ann Jordan
- Co-host: Lynn Jones of the Jacksonville Free Press
- Warren Jones and Brenda Ann Jordan
- Sign up for the District 7 Forum on Thursday, July 16 here.
- Candidates: Lori Hershey, Matt Schellenberg and John Turner
- Co-host: Melissa Ross of WJCT
Why does JPEF engage the community in School Board Elections?
Since our founding 10 years ago, JPEF has played an important role in engaging and informing the community during School Board elections.
The Duval County School Board has a big job: they oversee the budget, set policy like the Code of Conduct, decide on school openings and closures, determine school curricula and manage facilities. Although School Board members are elected to represent particular districts, their decisions affect all students.
The work of the School Board matters, and elections are an important moment for community members to hear from candidates and elect leaders who they feel will best represent the interests of students. But School Board elections are often overshadowed by larger races. That’s particularly true in presidential election years, like this one.
This year, four seats on the seven-member board are up for election -- meaning the winners will make major decisions facing our public schools, including potential budget cuts and safety measures related to COVID-19.
That’s why JPEF, as a nonpartisan, independent advocate for public schools, is planning several efforts to engage the community around School Board races this year.
Our goal is to raise awareness about School Board elections so that voters can make an informed choice. Rather than endorsing candidates, JPEF and its staff seek to give all candidates an equal opportunity to share their message with public education stakeholders.
Here’s how - in addition to the candidate forums - we’re planning to keep the public informed on School Board races.
Election overviews - We’ll publish information in our Advocacy Center about which districts are voting and which candidates are running. We’ll also publish analyses about some of the big issues facing public schools in Duval County.
Candidate questionnaires and bios - JPEF has already begun reaching out to School Board candidates to ask them to complete questionnaires about who they are and what they stand for. We’ll also ask them to submit a short video introducing themselves to voters and explaining why they’re running. We will publish all responses we receive on May 29, even if some candidates do not participate.
One-on-one meetings with JPEF - JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune will invite each candidate to meet virtually with her. Rachael will talk through some of JPEF’s data and research on where public education stands in Duval County and explain JPEF’s role and work in Duval County.
We’re sharing this information at the outset so that the candidates and the community know what we’re planning and why. If you have questions about this work, please contact Dr. Maira Martelo, Director of Strategic Engagement and Partnerships, at maira (at) jaxpef.org. We would love to hear from you!