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School board candidates McQuinn, Sutterfield to face off in November

A field of six was narrowed to two in the race to represent the county’s northernmost residents on the Palm Beach County School Board. Barbara McQuinn and Tom Sutterfield rose to the top of the heap after polls closed on Tuesday’s primary and will face each other in the November election.

The two are vying to fill the only vacant seat on the board, created when Mike Murgio resigned in April. Murgio exited the District 1 seat a day after federal authorities indicted him on charges of bribery and illegal money transfers in connection with his son’s business.

>UPDATE: Complete local results at

Two other board members, chairman Chuck Shaw and vice chairman Frank Barbieri ran unopposed and held their seats. School board members, seven in all, sit for a four-year term and earn roughly $42,600 a year.

This is the first run at elected office for McQuinn, a retired high school principal and district administrator. Sutterfield, a parent and an administrator at the South Florida Water Management District who also sits on the board of a charter school, is in his second race in as many years. In 2014, he lost a bid for the District 4 seat.

Sutterfield’s recent move to the Palm Beach Gardens area is bound to be point of contention in the race.

Sutterfield is candid that he was motivated to move from his Boynton Beach home in part because of the Republican leaning electorate to the north, even in a non-partisan race. Sutterfield said he is still working on decluttering his house of two decades before putting it on the market.

He notes that he has other ties in the community, including his work with the local Boy Scouts council in Palm Beach Gardens.

Tuesday night, Sutterfield ran closely to McQuinn, who at one time was principal at Palm Beach Gardens High.

“I’m honored and humbled that the voters have pushed me through to November,” Sutterfield said from his Gardens area home.

Sutterfield will be pitching his technology expertise to voters as well as his experience in managing school budgets. He has invested more than a decade as an unpaid member of Imagine Charter Schools’ Chancellor campus board of directors. On that board, he worked to prevent cuts to music and arts and build financial stability.

“I look forward to very postive campaigning,” Sutterfield said.

While the two candidates ran closely in a field of six, McQuinn expects her public education credentials to give her the edge in November. She hopes to pick up support that candidates Ellen Baker and Antoinette “Toi” Daniels, a teacher and a retired teacher, respectively, had in the primaries.

McQuinn’s career spans decades in public schools. After retiring as an area superintendent, the district tapped her to return as a principal on special assignment. She also was briefly on the board of a Montessori charter school that closed for lack of students and money in 2007.

Said McQuinn, “I’m a teacher’s administrator. I will have the educators’ support.”

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