McGraw campaigns for former school board seat

Former Alachua County School Board member Diyonne McGraw will run for a seat on the dais once again after Gov. Ron DeSantis removed her for living in the incorrect district. 

McGraw has filed to run for District 2 in the November elections against incumbent Mildred Russell, appointed by DeSantis to fill McGraw’s vacant seat. 

On Saturday, McGraw said on Facebook that she needed 1,905 more petitions by the May 16 deadline. 

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Candidates will vie for three other school board seats this year in districts 1,3 and 5. So far, each race has two candidates. 

  • District 1:
    • Tina Certain, incumbent
    • Daniel Fisher
  • District 2:
    • Mildred Russell, incumbent
    • Diyonne McGraw
  • District 3:
    • Raymond Holt Jr.
    • Sarah Rockwell
  • District 5:
    • Kay Abbitt
    • Wendy Noon

McGraw originally won her seat with 52 percent of the vote in November 2020, defeating Khanh-Lien Banko by less than 3,000 votes. 

The McGraw-Banko race drew in large financial support compared with other local candidates. McGraw’s financial reports showed $177,000 while Banko received $71,000 in contributions. 

Diyonne McGraw

However, both candidates invested in their own campaigns with McGraw’s contributions totaling more than $100,000 and Banko’s personal investments hitting at least $25,000.

McGraw only held the seat for a few months before DeSantis declared the seat vacant on June 17, 2021, because McGraw lived in District 4 and not District 2

DeSantis placed Russell in the empty school board seat in August, but the controversy between DeSantis and McGraw continued. Last week an Alachua County judge ruled in favor of the governor’s decision to remove McGraw. 

The school board has struggled to agree throughout the last year, with one board member calling the group dysfunctional. 

The board voted 3-2 to fire Superintendent Carlee Simon in March and picked Shane Andrew to fill the position by another 3-2 vote. However, the board appointed him as an interim and said the new school board elected in November would get the final say on a permanent superintendent.

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