Not strangers by any stretch of the imagination, Abby Freedman and Robert “Bob” Mayersohn, candidates for the upcoming School Board District 4 election, won't be spending too much time trying to gather new information about each other.
Both Freedman and Mayersohn are Parkland residents, and it is not for the first time that they are vying with each other for the district that covers Coral Springs, Parkland, North Lauderdale and parts of Margate and Tamarac. In 2012, they were among the five candidates in a race that Freedman won.
Freedman is hoping to make it two in two this time. “I am running on my experience and everything that I have been able to accomplish in the last two years. We were able to put $35.3 million back in the classrooms by cutting our operational costs.
“As a board member, I forged the relationship between University of Florida and the School District that enables our high school students to take UF courses online and get college credits,” Freedman said. “ We succeeded in getting a $52 million increase in school funding by lobbying the legislature. All employees received long-awaited salary increases. We expanded technology in classrooms.”
Freedman believes Mayersohn's performance in previous elections will hurt his chances. “He came in sixth in 2010 and was fourth in 2012. That proves that he does not have the skill sets or the background that people feel is necessary to do a good job. He would just be a rubber stamp.”
Mayersohn, a member of the Broward County Schools Audit Committee, is dismissive of Freedman's comments about him. “The last two times, I wasn't able to set myself apart from the other candidates. This time, people realize I am the better candidate. We haven't had a solid representative in quite a while.”
Mayersohn is hoping to cash in on the public backlash that some of Freedman's actions have invited, such has her school boundary proposals, which would have had Parkland students being bused to schools outside the city. Freedman later withdrew her proposal.
“She has lost the trust of the community,” said Mayersohn, who has raised $14,000 and put in $20,000 of his own money. “When you have somebody in office doing a good job, there is no need for someone else. That clearly isn't the case here. Abby's record isn't stellar at all. Many people who voted for her the first time have now switched camps.”
“People need to understand that we needed capacity added to our schools in a timely manner,” Freedman said. “We have been able to accomplish that. The backlash was from a vocal minority that had a special interest in the wedge. The city officials were looking to develop the city. I wanted to make sure that our schools do not have overcrowded classrooms.”
There has been an outpouring of support from the community, said Mayersohn. “I have been endorsed by every group that I have gone before. The Broward Gwen Cherry Chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus of Florida, which is dedicated to electing women to political office, has recommended my candidacy over my female opponent.”
Freedman, who is self-financing her campaign this time, as well, isn't worried. “I am not focusing my energy on getting political support. I am not beholden to anybody except students, teachers and the community. I have the endorsement of 55,000 people. Not everyone is going to wake up and say ‘I made a wrong choice.' I am very passionate about the work I do. They see the passion, and they hear the compassion.”