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Two weeks ago, The Sarasota News Leader delved into the race to replace now-retired Sarasota County School Board member Carol Todd, but there was one late-breaking entrant we didn't have time to speak with before pub- lication: Velton Hodges. We're correcting that this week. What made Hodges decide to throw his name into the ring? School safety. Hodges, who taught in Sarasota middle and elementary schools for more than three decades, says the School Board needs to ensure there's "a licensed, uniformed, armed, trained law enforcement officer" on every elementary school campus. While the schools have a heavy security camera presence, they lack the manpower to monitor the equipment, Hodges points out, arguing that on-campus cops are the most effective deterrent around. Hodges, who served a 12-year stint as pres- ident of the Sarasota Classified Teachers Association (SC/TA) union, isn't accepting any donations toward his campaign, relying instead on public events and forums to spread his message. SC/TA Tiger, the teachers' union political action committee, donated $1,000 to Hodges' opponent, Ken Marsh, a longtime school system employee himself. Three seats are open on the Sarasota County School Board, including that of long-time member Carol Todd (second from right), who resigned this spring. File photo SCHOOL BOARD RACE ROUNDUP ONE CANDIDATE CITES SCHOOL SAFETY AS TOP ISSUE; ANOTHER FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST KATHY DENT By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor

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