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Elect Dr. Allen Zeman to the Broward County School Board

October 22, 2022

Florida’s Broward County Public Schools are in the midst of a crisis. The sixth-largest school district in the country has been the focus of much unwanted attention. Four members were suspended by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis after a grand jury report focused on school safety and a massive $800 million bond had blasted those members for incompetence, neglect of duty and more.

Previously, the board was locked in a fight with Mr. DeSantis as it required masks to be worn during the pandemic, even as Mr. DeSantis fashioned himself into a kingpin peddling the drug of illusory ‘freedom.’ 

The governor had his revenge when he appointed five Republicans to the board in 2022, replacing those he suspended and another who left, in the bluest county in the state. Their latest project is trying to remove the superintendent.

One member who was suspended from the board after the grand jury report came out is Donna P. Korn. The report excoriated her for not bothering to give due diligence to issues with the bond program, despite her contracting experience. 

“Why should Donna Korn exercise her substantial experience in commercial real estate to analyze the district’s SMART bond foibles?” the report sarcastically asked.

Ms. Korn is the only suspended board member who is running for re-election this year. After the report was released just before the primary election, she was held to just 30.55% of the vote in a four-way race. Per Florida law, the top two vote getters will now progress to the general election this November. This is where Allen Zeman comes in.

After finishing a strong second in the race, with 29.87% of the vote, Mr. Zeman progressed to the runoff election for the countywide seat.

Possibly the most overqualified candidate to ever run for school board, Mr. Zeman, who comes from a family of educators, previously sat on the Department of Defense Education Association’s equivalent of a school board, running the largest education system in the world for eight years. He also put together the U.S. Navy’s massive budget for 13 years while serving in the Pentagon. On Broward’s school board, the sixth-largest in the nation, this will all be quite useful. 

Mr. Zeman said, “I ran the largest training and education system in the world for eight years. That experience was done at an executive level where the board and the senior executives who run the system know how to organize efficiently and effectively…the military bearing and discipline is needed as well.”

Already, Mr. Zeman has “put together a panel and 17 people including a couple of Congressman, a bunch of people from the school district, principals of schools, community leaders and faith-based leaders. And we’ve been building a list of near-term things we can do and long-term things we can do.”

This initiative and drive demonstrates Mr. Zeman’s personal dedication both to the mission of serving on the school board and serving the students, teachers and staff of Broward County Public Schools.

Moreover, as an economist with a Ph.D., Mr. Zeman also understands how to account for budgetary constraints, and could competently address the recent issues with that bond program, which is running far over budget. 

“Economics is the study of applying scarce resources to infinite needs, and we certainly could use that that skill set on the board,” explained Mr. Zeman.

Even this defense background is important, with that discipline being instrumental for increasing equity countywide and raising the school district’s grade from a ‘B’ to an ‘A,’ like its neighbors to the north and south. Moreover, defense training will be instrumental in improving school safety, another one of Mr. Zeman’s priorities – especially salient in the wake of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting.

Having a fresh, elected face with a proven record of integrity, such as Mr. Zeman, on the board will also go a long way to cleanse the board of corruption. This contrasts mightily with his opponent’s proven record of questionable ethics and investigation-worthy actions, such as staying over at a vendor’s home multiple times after she voted for his contract, giving him a monopoly to sell caps and gowns.

Ms. Korn is still under investigation for that.

Moreover, the voters of Broward County have a democratic imperative to vote for Mr. Zeman. Even if Ms. Korn was re-elected, she could be removed (again) shortly thereafter by Mr. DeSantis, creating a safe Republican seat on the board for years to come.

“I don’t think that’s a risk we want to take – we do not want Governor DeSantis’s appointee on the Broward County School Board – because we have what I think is a highly credible candidate who cannot under any circumstances be removed by the governor,” explained Mr. Zeman, describing himself.

These are the reasons why Mr. Zeman has built on his strong performance in the primary election and appears to have an excellent chance of winning. Mr. Zeman revealed that he has “497 volunteers and $452,00 raised,” which has been instrumental in blanketing the community with his message of competence and experience. 

Prior to this year, there had never been $100,000 raised for a school board race in Broward County. This influx of money has happened in other races, but not in this manner. In deep blue Broward County, debates over critical race theory will not yield electoral victories, but it has been a place where the voters have always had a special interest, given the board’s drama over the years. Mr. Zeman’s race is no exception.

For him, campaigning has been a labor of love. “It’s neat. I love people and I love talking to them and love getting involved in things related to the community, so, it’s been a real joy,” he said.

Community members have recognized Mr. Zeman’s clear superiority in the race, with current and former members endorsing him, along with educators, the police, leaders from the armed forces (he is surely the only school board member to be endorsed by a former Secretary of the Navy), community activists, business leaders, current and former elected officials from Congress on down to the property appraiser’s office, principals, assistant principals, the Sun Sentinel newspaper and more.

It is high time for the voters of Broward County to give Mr. Zeman the ultimate endorsement at the ballot box and elect him to serve on the Broward County School Board.

Visit IWillVote.com to make a plan to vote today.

A yard sign displaying support for Dr. Allen Zeman.

By Charles Horowitz

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