(Ocala, Florida) “I am today responding to the overwhelming communication from Marion County residents, parents and school personnel asking me to seek a local office, preferably as their next superintendent of schools,” Porter wrote.
Porter appears on the Republican primary ballot, where she will face Wally Wagoner, deputy superintendent of schools, and George Tomyn, an executive director.
“I look forward to seeing her on the campaign trail and debate the issues that affect the School District,” Wagoner said.
Tomyn said the news does not affect his campaign mission, which all along is to become superintendent, and to prove to area residents that he is “the most qualified candidate for the job.”
If the lineup stays the same, the winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Diana Greene, also a deputy superintendent of schools, in the November general election.
“That’s what’s great about America,” Greene said. “Voters will get the opportunity to decide who will lead the district in creating a world-class education system.”
A former nursery owner, Porter was elected to the board in 2008, defeating longtime incumbent Steve Hering. The superintendent’s position pays $131,921 annually.
Porter has been a lightning rod for controversy and criticism.
While she has sometimes alienated fellow board members with her comments and positions on policy decisions, she has also asked tough questions and conducted her own spending investigations.
Porter hopes to lead the charge in improving the district, which was ranked 44th out of 67 school districts in a controversial ranking released by Department of Education under the direction of Gov. Rick Scott.
She wants to make Marion County a Top 20 district quickly.
“Our children and families deserve the best school system, and with your support we will deliver results,” she wrote in her email.
Porter wrote that the Senate district, as currently drawn, includes parts of Clay, Putnam and Volusia counties, as well as eastern Marion County. However, the line places “my home in a seat controlled by Lake County.”
“This has convinced me to reassess my stated candidacy for the State senate,” she noted. “Subsequently, I have withdrawn from the state race and announcing my candidacy for Marion County superintendent of schools.”