Two newcomers won seats on the Lee County School Board on Nov. 8 in the general election, while the sole incumbent retained his.
With polling places limited due to damage and impacts from Hurricane Ian, final results came in shortly after 11 p.m., showing Sam Fisher as the top vote-getter in District 1 and Jada Langford-Fleming in the General District 6. Incumbent Debbie Jordan won the District 4 race, which was not on the ballot for the Sanibel and Captiva votes.
The results are not final until certification on November 18.
The District 1 seat was between two candidates, Fisher and Kathy Fanny, who were neck and neck throughout the evening with Fanny ahead at the 9:45 count.
At 10 p.m., Fisher took the lead where he stayed at the final count to win the seat.
At 11:04 p.m., Fisher had 26,425 (51.75%) votes to Fanny’s 24,634 (48.25%).
Fisher, a resident of Lee County since 2008, became a resident of Cape Coral in 2013. He is a small business owner and lawyer, and a former board member of Oasis Charter School and former deputy trustee of a local state agency.
Fanny moved southwest from Cape Coral 12 years ago with her husband, Lew. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and educational fields, who spent 38 years as a teacher in public schools, as well as 26 years as a reading specialist Title I.
Langford-Fleming received 111,436 votes (51.53%) against 104,817 for opponent Denise Nystrom (48.47%).
Langford-Fleming, a seventh-generation Floridian, lives in Fort Myers with her husband and three children. Prior to becoming the small business owner of Jada Fleming Fitness and a personal trainer for young adults and athletes, she taught elementary education for 20 years. She was also a P-5 physical education coach for the last four years of her teaching career, as well as a high school volleyball coach for 12 years.
Nystrom retired to southwest Florida seven years ago, first living in Collier County for five years before moving to Bonita Springs two years ago. She was a special education teacher for 14 years, a special education administrator for three years, and an assistant superintendent of schools for eight years, responsible for managing the human resources department.
Jordan retained his seat, receiving 19,722 votes (55.57%) against 15,770 for challenger Dan Severson (44.43%).
Jordan, the current board chair, has lived in the same Fort Myers home for 33 years, where she raised her children. She is a small business owner of a hotel management company, Nina Rose Events. Jordan was first elected to the board in 2018.
Severson has lived in the Southeast Cape since 2015. He was a Minnesota state legislator for eight years, four of them in executive leadership, and a US Navy officer for 22 years in command of fighter jets. He was also assigned to many leadership positions before retiring as a commander with many medals.
A fourth race — District 5, which was also not on the ballot for Islanders — was decided in the August primary. The Challenger Armor Persons defeated incumbent Gwynetta Gittens with over 50% of the vote. People got 8,232 votes, or 55.09%, while Gittens got 6,712 votes, or 44.91%.
SCHOOL BOARD REFERENDUM
A referendum asking voters in Lee County if they want to repeal a decades-old resolution that made the superintendent of schools a school board-appointed administrative position passed Nov. 8, meaning voters will elect a superintendent. in the next general election.
HB 497, titled Lee County School District, was one of 10 bills Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law on May 3. Republican Representative for District 78 Jenna Persons-Mulicka introduced the bill on Nov. 4, 2021. voters voting “yes.” The tally was 153,461 for and 93,478 against.
With the “yes” winning votes, the 1974 resolution will be repealed and the school district will transition to an elected superintendent, which will be done in a “Partisan election by ballot of qualified voters residing in Lee County for a four-year term, commencing with the 2024 general election.”
The superintendent will become another elected constitutional officer, making a total of eight for the county, including sheriff, clerk of the courts, tax collector and real estate appraiser.
The total turnout in the elections was 53.27% with 275,962 ballots counted.