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Syfan, Diaz elected to Gainesville school board

POSTED: November 3, 2009 11:02 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS /The Times

Delores Diaz talks with family friend Rosie Flores at Diaz' campaign headquarters Tuesday evening after her win for the Gainesville School Board Ward 4 over Richard Lacey.

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Gainesville voters elected Delores Diaz and re-elected David Syfan to the city’s Board of Education.

Ward 1 winner and incumbent David Syfan defeated political newcomer Kellie Weeks with an outcome of 279-134 votes. Ward 4 winner Delores Diaz defeated Richard Lacey with an outcome of 75-64 votes.

Syfan has been on the board since 2002 and currently serves as chairman.

Diaz, however, is new to the board and in January she will replace longtime school board member Kelvin Simmons. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience in public schools and higher education. She currently teaches art history at Gainesville State College.

Diaz said she’s pleased with the outcome of the race and looks forward to working with Syfan and other board members.

"I think it shows the voters really support the message I have and that is ... to focus on student achievement and helping all students to achieve their maximum potential," she said.

Diaz said there are many minorities in her ward, and she plans to represent them and all children of the Gainesville system equally.

She said she looks forward to starting her four-year term and believes she will bring balance to the board with her extensive background in education. The board has parents, businesspeople and an attorney but currently does not have an experienced educator.

Board member Sammy Smith said he welcomes Diaz to the board. He said he believes Diaz, who has grandchildren in Gainesville schools, will bring a teacher’s perspective to the board with her education background.

"She’s taught in public schools and in colleges, and has a very pleasant demeanor," Smith said. "I admire her for offering. I expect great service from her."

Syfan said he, too, is excited to work with Diaz as he starts his third term on the school board.

"I was very pleased that the majority of the voters felt like I had done a good job and wanted to return me to the school board," he said.

Syfan said there are many problems he hopes to solve in his upcoming term.

"I want to get all our facilities fixed and get everything in ship shape. I want to finish paying off the deficit and get the school system back in the black again," he said. "Those are big challenges, but hopefully we’ll have the fun challenge of building a new Fair Street school and building a sixth elementary school."



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