Browning takes school board seat

Don Browning, center, is sworn in to the Marion County Public School Board by School Board member Eric Cummings, left, as Browning’s wife, Leslie, right, hold the Bible during a meeting at the Marion County Public School Board in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

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Posted September 9, 2021 | Ocala Gazette Staff

Don Browning, center, is sworn into office as he takes his seat on the Marion County Public School Board on Tuesday. School board member Eric Cummings, left, administers the oath as Browning’s wife, Leslie, right, holds the Bible. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

Don Browning, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pick to take the open seat on the Marion County School Board, was sworn into office on Tuesday.

Browning, a Weirsdale resident, stood with his wife, Leslie, as fellow board member Eric Cummings administered the oath.

“We were all educated and we owe that level of education to the children thar are coming along,” Browning said. “You’re going to get everything out of me that I have to offer.”

Browning, 80, previously said he is not in favor of mask mandates, a belief he shared with DeSantis.

“If they walk into a situation that needs it, certainly put a mask on,” he said in a previous interview. “But we’re not going to use some kind of amateur political mandate to make a third-grader sit all day long with a mask.”

The Marion County School board on Aug. 16 voted to implement a schoolwide mask mandate with a parental opt-out for students. Teachers and staff did not get the opt out choice but could forego the masks if they have a documented medical reason.

Browning takes over the seat once occupied by Beth McCall.

McCall resigned her position in June after she moved out of the District 2 area of southeast Marion County. School board members must live in the districts to which they are elected.

Browning, a retired businessman has run at least twice for a U.S. Congress seat representing part of Marion County. His last bid came in 2012 when he ran for the District 11 seat currently held by Daniel Webster. He did not win either election.

A former member of the U.S Navy, he previously served on the Winter Springs City Council, Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the Florida Juvenile Justice Association.

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