ROUND 1: Pons and Maddox Spar at Local Forum

ROUND 1: Pons and Maddox Spar at Local Forum

On Monday the local Democratic Party held a forum at City Hall for local candidates. At the forum current Superintendent Jackie Pons and candidate and current City Comissioner Scott Maddox stole the show with pointed jabs at each other.

Candidate Rocky Hanna was not allowed to participate because he is running as an independent.

Pons Opening

Superintendent Jackie Pons began the debate by talking about his views on testing and his accomplishments.

He said “we have to stop the addiction to the tests” and stop the punitive teacher evaluations pushed down from the state.

He told the crowd that “we have accomplished a lot and the Florida Department of Education ranks us as an A district.” He said “we have improved graduation rates by 18% and African American grad rates have increased.”

Pons talked about losing $111 million during the economic downturn and how he and the School Board protected the classroom by not laying off any teachers.

And in a subtle jab at his opponent, he ended by saying “to do this job you need education experience.”

Maddox Opening

Candidate Scott Maddox began by laying out his education experience gained through significant volunteer efforts such as heading PTO’s, substitute teaching and coaching sports teams.

He told the crowd that he pushed hard as a Democratic Party leader for the class size amendment.

Maddox discussed education related initiatives he has supported while on the City Commission. These initiatives involved the push for community schools and the use of Star-Metro to provide transportation for students who are unable to take advantage of the later start times recently approved by the School Board.

Maddox said “the way to succeed is to get resources down to the level on the ground where they are needed the most.”

And then he addressed Pons.

“I am compelled to run because there are problems…I am going to talk about the elephant in the room – we’ve got problems. I had to write them down I couldn’t remember them all.”

Maddox then listed what he viewed as a host of problems. He spoke of  audits, a federal grand jury, FBI investigations and reminded the audience that two allies of the school superintendent were arrested for stealing and selling drugs. He said “we are in the million dollar range for criminal defense attorney’s.”

Acknowledging the district success, Maddox said to great applause, “We have an A district but not every body goes to an A school.”

He closed with a dagger.

“Our kids deserve a superintendent that cares as much about their well being as his political career.”

Pons Rebuttal

During his rebuttal Pons opened by saying, “I find it very interesting Mr. Maddox is talking about someone’s career in politics you know being a politician himself.”

He added, “this is the guy that ran your Democratic Party and had a $200,000 tax lien filed against it because they refused to pay their taxes so when he is talking about fiscal responsibility he has a record.”

He closed to great applause, by saying, “this rhetoric sounds very much like what you’re hearing in the Republican presidential primary.”

Maddox Rebuttal

In response to the tax lien Maddox said, “I had two audits that said I was not at fault but leaders take responsibility and that is what I did.”

And then he talked about the continuing distractions with the School Board over the last two years and addressed another distraction by saying “you have all your high paid people from the district that are required to do campaign things like tonight.” A reference to School Board employees in attendance supporting Superintendent Pons.

Maddox closed by saying if he is proven wrong about the controversies surrounding the district over the last two years he will stop talking about it and move on.

But he added, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

20 Responses to "ROUND 1: Pons and Maddox Spar at Local Forum"

  1. Rocky Hanna is just a Jackie Pons wannabe, two sides of the same coin. I am unimpressed by any of them.

    We should be electing leadership (schoolboard) that hires management (superintendent). As long as the superintendent post remains elected, guess what you get? Politicians and politics. Same old same-o.

    1. Robert,
      Do you know Rocky Hanna personally?
      If not, I invite you to get to know him and gain valuable insight into his educational background. He has been a hall monitor, teacher, administrator and dedicated his entire career to Leon County schools. He is not, and has never been a politician. Unfortunately in order to be Superintendent, he must join the political race, but he remains dedicated to his educational background.
      Rocky Hanna for Superintendent!

  2. What do these usual suspects say about the need for a new high school? Can we do more to be more effective with the current number of schools and funding levels to focus on results, perhaps results that are not so closely measured by test prepping all year? There seems to be a disconnect.
    Here, have fun with this chart and information from the Cato Institute

  3. Rocky is the most qualified and dedicated to the school system, teachers and children. Rocky definitely has my vote.

  4. In my experience, people who know the truth from inside are publicly or, if necessary, secretly, in full support of Rocky!!!

  5. Wake up Leon County voters. We do not want a politician running our schools. Rocky Hanna is the real deal. He cares about our kids and he has the talent, experience and drive to the best candidate of choice. Remember to note nonpartisan in November!

  6. Bernie Sanders is an Independent running in the Democratic Primaries for President. Why did the local Democratic exclude Rocky Hanna who is also an Independent?

    Could it be that he is not a card-carrying Socialist?

    The local Democratic Party has shown their true colors.
    Maddox and Pons should had demanded that he be included if they are truly honest Democrats.

  7. Rocky has my vote! So sad that this position is surrounded by political disputes and not what it is really about….our children, teachers, and school staff! It’s a shame that school employees are strong handed to support a candidate. These school employees are in the trenches everyday and know best what is needed for the position of Superintendent. They should be supporting on free will, not because they are scared they will lose their job! Rocky is more than qualified for the position and he’s not using it as a stepping stone….he wants to make a difference!

  8. Rocky is clearly the only candidate that is NOT a politician. This goes to show that superintendent should NOT be a partisan race. Rocky has fought for that. The anti corruption bill that passed the legislature this session is a result of Rocky being persistent. Vote Rocky!

  9. I’m supporting ROCKY because he has 28 years of experience in our public school system. The office of the Superintend is a position Rocky has been working towards in his education career. Rocky not only cares about the children, but parents who are seeking answers who encounter barriers in supporting their children.

  10. How are they having a political forum at city hall and not inviting all the candidates. Did they pay to use the public place?

  11. Well well the Dems are scared to let an outsider in! That just got Rocky my vote and my wife and anyone I can turn from the dark side.

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