If America is entering the era of women leadership in politics, that may be manifesting itself first in Orange County, which has the probability of an all-female school board and an all-female board of county commissioners, not including Mayor-elect Jerry Demings.
Orange County voters in November still have the chance of electing two men to the school board, David Grimm and Eric Schwalbach; and one man to the county commission, Pete Crotty.
Yet all three finished behind women in the first-round elections on Aug. 28. And all three may be underdogs in races where their women opponents in the Nov. 6 runoff elections are raising more contributions and piling up endorsements, seeking to finish the fall races where they began, ahead.
If the presumed favorites all win, the next Orange County School Board, seated in November, would be made up of newly-elected School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs; incumbent School Board Members Pam Gould and Kat Gordon, whose terms run through 2020; just re-elected School Board Member Linda Kobert; newly-elected school board members Angie Gallo and Karen Castor Dentel; and new school board members Johanna Lopez and Melissa Byrd, who face Grimm and Schwalbach, respectively, in the Nov 6 election.
And the next Orange County Board of County Commmissioners, seated in December, could be made up of incumbent Commissioners Betsy VanderLey and Emily Bonilla, whose terms run through 2020; newly re-elected Commissioner Victoria Siplin; Mayra Uribe, who faces Crotty in the Nov. 6 election; and the winners between Christine Moore and Patricia Rumph for one seat, and Susan Makowski and Maribel Gomez Cordero for the other.
Demings would chair the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. The six commissioners could be all women.
The school board already is nearly all women. After the 2016 election, all seven districts had elected women school board members, yet Bill Sublette, last re-elected in 2014, holds the school board chair’s job until Jacobs is sworn in.
The Orange County Commission has two men, Pete Clarke and Rod Love, but neither is running to keep their seats.
In the six-candidate Aug. 28 election, Uribe finished first with 28 percent and Crotty second with 22 percent.
And in August, Lopez finished first in the six-candiate preliminary election for the School Board’s District 2 seat with 34 percent, while Grimm finished second with 21 percent. In the four-candidate District 7 election, Byrd got 45 percent and Schwalbach finished second with 23 percent.
The men have one more disadvantage: the gender gap in voter registration.
If voters vote their genders, Uribe, Lopez, and Byrd would be easy winners. At least in the voter registration data available for the Aug. 28 election, women make up 53 percent of the voter pools in Uribe’s and Lopez’s districts, and 54 percent in Byrd’s.