News anchor may face Thrasher for Senate seat

Deborah Gianoulis-Heald is best known for her 25-year career as Jacksonville’s news anchor on WJXT-TV 4, but according to an announcement aired yesterday evening, Historic City News has learned that she may be coming out of retirement to become the next State Senator for District 8.

Gianoulis said Friday afternoon that she is seriously considering running as a Democrat against Republican State Senator John Thrasher for the District 8 seat.

One motivation for Gianoulis to run against Thrasher was Thrasher’s support for State Senate Bill 6. Gianoulis served as chairwoman of Save Duval Schools; a group of teachers and parents who opposed the controversial bill that would have based teacher pay on school performance. In the end, the governor vetoed the bill.

“I have just been humbled by the number of people who approached me, primarily because of my commitment to students and for better schools,” Gianoulis said in her statement. “Students and business leaders have urged me to consider running. We need change in education, and I am seriously considering running.”

Gianoulis coverage of local news was often on high profile stories going back to and including the effect of desegregation on students’ ability to learn. Her two Emmy awards are for military and education reporting. Gianoulis’ documentary on Hubbard House and domestic violence, “Behind Closed Doors,” won a Peabody award in 2000 and is still used for domestic violence training of police officers and judges across the country.

Gianoulis’ interest in education has been demonstrated by her television reporting and civic work. Since retiring from the news business, Gianoulis has devoted her energies to promoting quality early learning, helping to form the Episcopal Children’s Services Foundation Board and serving as its President.

Gianoulis is married to David Heald and they have two children, John and Laura.

Thrasher has already drawn a Republican opponent in the August 24th primary; Dr. Charles Perniciaro of Neptune Beach Dermatology, whose wife, Gail, is a Duval County school teacher.

If Gianoulis actually decides to run as a Democrat, she will face whoever survives the August 24th Republican Primary Election, Thrasher or Perniciaro, in the General Election on November 2nd. Ginaoulis said she’ll make a decision soon. The qualifying period for the Senate Seat is between Monday, June 14th and Friday, June 18th and there is still time for another candidate to emerge.

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