NAPLES — The Collier County School Board is hoping Santa brings them a new board member.
But they are still waiting.
Gov. Charlie Crist’s office has confirmed that the state has received 20 applications and is reviewing them to find a replacement for School Board member Richard Calabrese.
Calabrese announced in October that he would vacate his seat on the board effective Dec. 31. Calabrese cited health reasons for his decision and asked that Crist appoint a replacement to fill his seat until the 2010 election.
Though voters won’t get an opportunity to properly vet the candidates, they may already know where a few of them stand on the issues.
Joe Paterno, executive director of the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, ran for school board in District 4 last year but lost to Board Vice Charwoman Julie Sprague. Adrienne Markopolos, a psychotherapist at the David Lawrence Center, also ran for Collier County School Board last year and also lost to Sprague.
Candidates from District 5 have also applied for the appointment: Mary Ellen Cash, an instructional specialist for Collier County schools; retired Naples Police detective Joe Whitehead; and retired Palmetto Ridge High School Principal Roy Terry.
Other names that might be familiar include Cheryl Couture, the president of the Southwest Florida 9/12 Projectm, Marco Island City Council Chairman Rob Popoff and Becky Newell, self-employed freelance writer and chairwoman of the Yes for Collier Students referendum political action committee.
Virginia Ortino’s name may ring a bell on multiple levels. She was a School Board candidate and her husband, Victor, ran unsuccessfully for Collier County Sheriff last year. She is an investigator with Ortino Enterprises.
Other applicants: Naples attorney Edward Larsen; James Guerrero, a self-employed contractor; William Varian, president of William J. Varian Construction Co.; Mario Valle, project manager of Professional Building Systems; retired educator Kenneth Lloyd; Bob Mulhere, senior vice president for RWA Consultants; Pete Cade, dean of students Seminole Tribe of Florida; retired resident Paul Manley; Mary Lynn Hill, vice president and manager of Bob Hill, Inc.; Shane McIntosh, owner of McIntosh Enterprises Inc.; retiree Bob Jenkins; and Karen Acquard, a grandmother who serves on the Big Corkscrew Island Volunteer Firefighters Association.
“That’s a good group of people,” said Paterno. “I thought my background — during these troubled times we are going to be facing with budgeting issues — I thought I had an expertise I could lend to the School Board over the next 10 months. But it is up to the governor.”
Couture, who home schooled her children, said she was encouraged to seek the appointment because many of the 540 members of the Southwest Florida 9/12 Project asked her to run.
“I feel I owe it to the community to give back,” she said. “I am also hoping to learn how to get more people involved in the school district because I think people in this community feel disconnected.”
Sterling Ivey, press secretary for Crist, said there is not a definitive timeline for when Crist will make the announcement of the appointment. He added that any one of the 20 could be named to the post.
“We continue to review the entire pool of applicants,” he wrote in an e-mail.