One School Board run-off race will be decided on Nov. 8 because none of the three candidates received a majority vote. The race was one of four seats on the nonpartisan Polk County School Board that were contested in the Aug. 23 primary election. Each seat represents a separate geographic area, but School Board members are elected countywide.

In the primary, challenger Rick Nolte unseated first-term incumbent Sarah Fortney after he received the endorsement of Gov. Ron DeSantis; Kay Fields was elected to her fifth term over challenger Terry Clark; and Justin Sharpless defeated Sara Jones for an open seat.

School Board members set policy for a massive school district that encompasses 110,000 students and 13,000 employees.

District 7

Lisa Miller (incumbent)

Lisa Miller
  • Lakeland, age 46
  • Website
  • Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | TikTok
  • Campaign finance
  • Campaign slogan: Our children. Our future.
  • Endorsements: Business Voice (Lakeland Chamber), East Polk Association of Realtors, Lakeland Association of Realtors, Polk County Builders Association

Jill Sessions

  • Lakeland, age 57
  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Campaign finance
  • Campaign slogan: School is in Session
  • Endorsements: Republican Party of Polk County, Winter Haven 9-12 Project, The 1776 Project PAC

News links

  • Texts falsely claim School Board member is under criminal inquiry – The Ledger, July 1
  • Lisa Miller faces two challengers in her bid for a second term – The Ledger, Aug. 3
  • School Board District 7: Miller, Quary and Sessions – LkldNow, Aug. 9
  • Nolte unseats Fortney; Fields returns; Sharpless wins; Miller faces sessions in runoff, LkldNow, Aug. 23
  • Sessions is backed by dark money from a national conservative group – LkldNow, Oct. 10
  • Incumbent Miller faces challenger Sessions in runoff – The Ledger, Oct. 21
  • Outside PAC donates to Polk School Board candidate – The Ledger, Nov. 3

News and video links – multiple seats

  • School Board races are supposed to be nonpartisan, but both parties are endorsing – The Ledger, July 1
  • Video: County Citizens Defending Freedom candidate forum, July 16
  • Two companies run by School Board campaign manager found in breach of contract – The Ledger, July 27 (subscribers only)
  • Video: School Board candidates air views at Kiwanis forum – LkldNow, Aug. 5
  • School Board candidates highlight experience vs. change – LkldNow, Aug. 12
  • Stranger things surround this year’s Polk School Board races – LkldNow, Aug. 15

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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