The race for the District 1 seat in Alachua County Public Schools features one of two races in which an incumbent is trying to hold onto their seat.
Tina Certain is seeking a second term in the race against challenger Daniel Fisher. She and board member Mildred Russell are each seeking to retain their positions in an election cycle that could see voters electing as many as four new members to the county’s five school district seats.
Certain is returning to values she ran on during her first election in 2018.
She said these include accountability, equity, and community involvement.
While serving as a board member for the district, she says one thing she’s learned is that change doesn’t happen overnight.
“You can come up with a vision and get buy-in, but actually moving the barge takes time. Especially on a governmental agency to affect change,” Certain said.
Certain said she’s accomplished many things while on the board, like implementing the UF Literacy Institute, the creation of parks for after-school activities and securing CARES Act funding for schools from the Alachua County Commission.
Fisher has served in many roles in the U.S. Air Force, from an aircraft mechanic to an operations manager.
A change Fisher said he wants to make if elected involves Career and Technical Education.
This training provides students with academic occupational and technical skills and a pathway to succeed in post-secondary education that doesn’t include a traditional four-year college degree.
“We need to engage the community to be in our schools at a much earlier age,” Fisher said. “Right now by eighth grade is when they get their introduction to CTE, I think we need to introduce that at the third and fourth-grade level, so that the children can get a vision for what they can become.”
Fisher comes from a diverse educational background.
He also received a master’s of business administration from Golden Gate University in California.
While he’s relatively new to Alachua County, Fisher said this works to his advantage.
“I don’t come in here with any preconceived biases. I don’t have any allegiances to anybody,” Fisher said. “It has allowed me to just focus on the priorities of trying to make our schools better.”
Certain also has a background in the private sector. She has experience as an accountant for a private healthcare company and as an accountant for a local government. She said her previous work benefits the school board.
“I brought an analytical mindset of using data to make decisions, not just going on a whim,” Certain said. “I think that’s been my strong point, to analyze large amounts of data, financial and non financial data.”
As of July 29, Fisher had outspent Certain in the campaign, $14,617 to $10,286, but she had $27,000 in unspent contributions to his $5,000.
Early voting began Saturday and runs through Aug. 20, with election day polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 23.