Local businessman, Joe Fagundes of Niceville, will run for the Okaloosa County District Five School Board Seat. The seat, which Incumbent Diane Kelley announced she would not seek re-election for, will be up for election in August 23rd’s primary.
Fagundes is a realtor and businessman who hopes to bring his business acumen to the board’s operations. “I know how valuable our school system is,” Fagundes said, “ I also know that over the next couple of years, we’re going to be making some big financial investments into our facilities all around the county. And I think, with my background as a businessman, and now having been in the real estate business for quite some time, that I bring a different thought process that maybe they haven’t had on the board, because primarily it is educators.”
Fagundes has a child who graduated from Niceville High School and another child who is a rising senior at the school. “What we want to do is make sure that we’re good stewards of taxpayers’ money from the property taxes that we received,” Fagundes said, “but also from the half-cent sales tax that we’re now receiving. And tourists are paying a fair share of that. But we still need to be good stewards of that.”
He also took note of the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. He said that he wants to increase mental health funding for both teachers and students in the district as a resiliency measure.
The filing deadline to register as a candidate in the election is May 31st. Should no-one else file before the deadline, Fagundes will be the next district five representative on the school board.
Dr. Diane Kelley, the incumbent school board member for Niceville, Valparaiso and Eglin Air Force Base will not seek re-election to the school board.
Kelley served a single term on the school board.
Kelley’s full statement is below:
“As the school year draws to a close, I feel so honored that you’ve allowed me to be your school board member, to support your students and our employees, and to work for initiatives and ideas that would continue to propel us forward as a district.
I’m humbled to be the only incumbent unopposed in this election cycle. Your support has meant everything to me, and I hope that I’ve honored my commitments to you.
Recently I was blessed to be offered an opportunity to work for an entity that I’ve volunteered with for nearly 3 years, and an entity that directly impacts the lives of students in a positive way.
After much prayer and soul-searching, I’ve decided to go to work with the Hope Squad. I am passionate about their work and I believe in their mission. This opportunity will allow me to continue to work with young people (my passion for many decades) on an even larger scale.
For this reason, I will not be seeking re-election at this time. God has given me much to be grateful for in my life, not the least of which will be the wonderful memories and people of our phenomenal school district!”
Before she was a school board member, Kelley taught in the district and served as a principal of Destin Middle School.