Sarah James files to run for School Board District 5 seat, joins Taylor Smith in race

Incumbent Kelly King has yet to file her intent to run.

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Posted June 1, 2022 | By James Blevins

Sarah James [Supplied]

Sarah James has filed her intent to run for the Marion County School Board District 5 seat in the upcoming 2022 election cycle, according to the Marion County Supervisor of Elections website.

When asked why she is running, James put it simply: she is a parent first and foremost. And as a parent with a daughter entering kindergarten soon, the mother of three confessed that she has an invested interest in the success of Marion County Public Schools (MCPS).

Specifically, James said, she wants to focus on recruiting and retaining qualified personnel throughout the district.

“Not only as our teachers,” she explained, “but I’m also looking at our bus drivers and our custodial staff.”

Furthermore, James expressed concern over how much and how quickly the district is currently growing.

“We have lots of people coming to Marion County. We really need to plan for responsible growth, all while keeping a balanced budget and making sure the budget remains student-centered,” she said.

Along with student-centered budgets and responsible growth, James said she wants to see a healthy expansion of vocational opportunities available for Marion County students as well, keeping future graduates in the area and contributing to Ocala’s ongoing success.

“As our students are entering their junior and senior years, we want to make sure that they are given opportunities to get that vocational education, so they can get direct job placement in Marion County and have practical job experience before applying for all of our industries here,” said James.

If elected, James expressed her desire to help the School Board work together, to make the tough decisions that are necessary, all while putting the best interests of MCPS students first.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things,” she said. “And then we are obviously going to have to continue to focus on hardening all of our school campuses and making sure they are meeting the standard that was set in 2018.”

A University of Florida graduate, James received her Masters in Education from the University of Central Florida and her doctorate in Educational Leadership from National Louis University.

She has more than 10 years of experience in public and private education, according to her campaign website, working as a teacher in grades Pre-K through Grade 10. Additionally, she has previously worked as an administrator on the elementary and high school levels.

James joins Taylor Smith in the District 5 race. Parish Tanner, who had previously filed to run, withdrew in late April. James currently has $0 in contributions as of June 1; Smith has $0 as well.

Current District 5 board member Kelly King, elected in 2018, has yet to file her intent to run in 2022 as of this reporting.

The voter registration deadline is July 25. Election Day will be held on Aug. 23. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Early voting begins on Aug. 13 and runs through to Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The mail ballot request deadline is Aug. 13 by 5 p.m. (Mail ballots must be received by the Supervisor of Elections office by 7 p.m. Election Day to be counted.)