School Board District 5: Tom Rivers

Three St Johns County residents; Patrick Canan, Gary McMahon, and Tom Rivers, are seeking the open seat created when District 5 School Board member, Carla Wright, announced that she would not seek re-election to another term.

Historic City News editorial board members looked at the records of the three candidates as well as published comments that have been circulated through their campaign as well as our own personal experience of the last thirty or more years.

We unanimously were unhappy to see McMahon enter this non-partisan race; he has been a Republican candidate in the past for partisan positions and we have never been able to reach a consensus to extend him an endorsement — that hasn’t changed.

We consider Canan a very capable local defense attorney and one time prosecutor. He certainly has what one panelist regularly refers to as “skin in the game”; as Canan’s children attend St Johns County public schools. We honestly have nothing “bad” to say that would prevent us from recommending Canan in a different election.

Likewise, we found that we had enough “good” to say about Tom Rivers, that we had no problem reaching a decision to recommend him for the District 5 seat — in no small part because we find that Rivers is the only candidate that already has experience; both as a classroom teacher as well as a member of the school board.

Rivers, who resides at 303 Porpoise Point Drive, on Vilano Beach in St Augustine, served on the St. Johns County School Board from 1980 through 1984 and was School Board Chairman from 1983-84.

Rivers taught in the public schools of Clay and St. Johns Counties from 1969 to 1978.

Since 1978, he has been an active Realtor and is now working as a Broker Associate in the Historic Downtown Office of Olde Carriage Realty on Charlotte Street. Rivers also served on the Property Appraisers Tax Adjustment Board.

Rivers was elected to the Group 2 seat on the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach Commission in November of 2004. He resigned his current term, which would have expired in November, in order to run for the School Board seat.

In 1995, he was appointed to represent St. Johns County on the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council; where he served until 2001.

Next year will be challenging due to reductions in funding, according to candidate.

Rivers says that inevitable funding cuts for schools do not have to translate into reduced quality of instructional programs that make our school district #1 in Florida.

“My training and background in education, coupled with my business experience, will enable me to be an effective team member with the superintendent and other members of the board that will keep our students on top.”

Rivers explained that Republicans, Democrats and voters with other party affiliations, would be able to vote for him if they are registered within School District 5.

Historic City News offers our recommendation in this race because we feel that Tom Rivers is the best choice for the District 5 school board seat and that he has the experience needed to tackle the large issues facing the school board in the months to come.

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