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3 new members to join Hillsborough County school board

Posted at 6:42 PM, Nov 04, 2020

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.—You’re going to see some new faces on the Hillsborough County School Board. On election night, three new members were voted in, unseating two incumbents.

“Super excited, really humbled, just ready to get to work,” said Nadia Combs.

Combs beat out board member Steve Cona in District 1, while Henry “Shake” Washington came out ahead of incumbent Tammy Shamburger in District 5.

Combs explained she has a deep commitment to students when looking ahead to her time on the school board and working through challenges.

“When teachers are feeling really frustrated, I think we can help and support the new superintendent in coming up with innovative ways to change that,” said Combs.

Incumbent Lynn Gray was able to hang on to her seat in District 7.

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Jessica Vaughn also won a seat in District 3. Among her goals to push Hillsborough County Schools forward, Vaughn explained they need to be an advocate for making sure their public schools are properly funded and prioritized and advocate for students who tend to fall within margins.

“Then most of all, making sure that our school board specifically is accessible, that it’s reflective, that our community feels really connected to the decisions that we’re making, and that our community feels engaged,” said Vaughn.

The election results marked a significant turnover on the board. Political analyst Ron Pierce explains a possible one-two punch between pandemic-related decisions and problems along with budget issues may have made incumbents more vulnerable.

“It was a really hard time to be an incumbent school board member with some of the very, very difficult decisions they’ve had to make,” said Pierce. “Voters were paying attention to that and decided to go a different direction.”

Pierce thinks in many cases, voters aren’t paying that close attention to local government in general. Pierce believes other board members who will be up for election in a few years may have been watching closely to what happened Tuesday night.

“I would hope that voters did realize during this election cycle the importance that these school boards do have tremendous power with regards to policies that they’re passing and impacts from a budget standpoint they’re living within on educating our students in Hillsborough County,” said Pierce.

ABC Action News reached out to Henry “Shake” Washington for an interview on election night results and is waiting on his response.