Applicants line up for vacant school board slot

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By Mike Wright

CRYSTAL RIVER— Three people who had unsuccessful runs for political office are among eight who have applied so far for an opening on the Citrus County School Board.

The applicants include Sandy Balfour, the Republican who received 47 percent of the vote in losing the superintendent of schools’ race in November to Democrat incumbent Sandra “Sam” Himmel.

Balfour, an English teacher at the Academy of Environmental Sciences, also applied for the appointed superintendent’s position in Hernando County. She didn’t make the list of 10 finalists.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office hasn’t indicated when the governor is likely to choose the successor to Susan Hale, who abruptly resigned just two months after being elected. Hale said she wanted to spend more time with ailing family members.

Scott’s office also hasn’t set a deadline for applications.

Scott is requiring the successful applicant to live in the same district as Hale, according to an aide to state Rep. Jimmie T. Smith.

School board District 4 covers the county’s southwest section, including Homosassa, Sugarmill Woods and portions of Lecanto.

Balfour lives in Pine Ridge, which is outside the district.

Two applicants are from Sugarmill Woods: Tammy Zybell and Judith Zumwalt. Another applicant, Michael “Joey” White, listed with the Supervisor of Elections Office a post office box in Lecanto when he temporarily filed as a county commission candidate in 2012.

White has unsuccessfully sought public office three times: 2002 and 2007 for state representative, and 2006 for school board.
Other applicants are:

+ Gary Cronau, of Citrus Hills, is president of the Agape World Christian Ministries and Training Center Inc. thrift store.

+ Jeffrey Smith, of Inverness, is an assistant state attorney who prosecutes cases involving juveniles.

+ Suzan Franks, of Citrus Hills, is a former member of the New Hampshire state legislature. She ran unsuccessfully for state Senate against Charlie Dean in 2007 and 2008.

+ Kathy Thrumston, of Floral City, is a former vice president of the Florida Parent-Teacher Association. Her husband, John, was a Citrus County commissioner from 2006-10.

School board member Thomas Kennedy has posted information about the vacancy on his blog, www.thomastalksoncitrusschools.com.

Kennedy said he hopes the vacancy attracts qualified applicants.

“I want someone who cares about public education and our young people,” he said. “Especially at this time, we need people who care about our kids.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.