When the polls closed Tuesday night, Frank Hernandez said he was “excited” about the prospect of gaining a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board. However, an hour later, his excitement was met with disappointment as his bid came up short.
Hernandez, a graduate student majoring in education and public policy, began campaigning for a seat on the school board four months ago – a position that would allow him to assist in hiring the superintendent and have oversight on school curriculums.
“Obviously, we didn’t get the outcome we were looking for,” Hernandez said. “I still think it was a wonderful experience if anything. I think that this race … we sort of created a catalyst. We acknowledged that there is a problem taking place in our school system.”
His opponent, Candy Olsen, an incumbent who held the position for the past 16 years, won with 67 percent of the vote (19,741 votes) while Hernandez held 32 percent of the vote (9,574 votes), as of 11:40 p.m. The remaining 2 percent of voters either chose to vote for neither candidate or left that portion of the ballot blank, Hernandez said.
“My passion is education,” he said. “I found that there are many ways you can serve your community rather than I run again … but right now, there are a lot of things that need to get done,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean running again.”
He said he plans to continue taking graduate courses in education at USF and will maintain his role as Student Government’s director of governmental affairs.
He also said he hopes to still implement some of the changes included in his platform in the school board, such as a “citizen’s bill of rights,” where a citizen’s opinion must be weighed into all decisions.
Hernandez’s cousin and campaign development officer, Danny Alvarez, said they are happy with what was accomplished during campainging.
“Clearly, we’re disappointed but we are extremely proud of the showing we made,” he said. “For a guy who came out of nowhere with a pretty solid message, the numbers showed that, while we didn’t win, our message was heard by a lot of people. A lot of people were looking for change.”