Appointed Vs Elected School Superintendent – Ray Sansom

Ray Sansom, a former Okaloosa School District employee, former Okaloosa County Commissioner and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, sat down for an interview on our Northwest Florida Public Affairs Program. Mr. Sansom gave an opposing view on appointing the Superintendent of Okaloosa Schools.

Mr. Sansom believes taking the election process away is never the right answer. There is nothing like going through an election, campaigning, meeting the people, knowing the community and answering their questions, said Sansom.

The difference is night and day when you run for office compared to being appointed, explained Sansom. When you run for officer you have the endorsement of the total community, you are the person they have chosen, Sansom said in the interview. Sansom further stated when you are appointed you convince three (3) people out of 200,000, it’s a huge difference.

Sansom stated one of the major advantages of holding elections is the campaign process. You get to know the candidate. You get to ask questions like where they stand on certain issues and know their political philosophies.

Sansom explained that you can’t take the politics out of schools when you have politicians making the laws for the schools. With that said, you want to make sure you know the political philosophies of your school superintendent. When you have an appointed superintendent, you have no idea what their political philosophies are.

Sansom said based on his experience in office when meeting both appointed and elected superintendents, the elected superintendents know their county and its culture. They know their teachers, the students and their parents.

Sansom claims that when a superintendent is appointed, they are impersonal, they are more interested in the process than the people based on his experience. Sansom claims that very few appointed superintendents come from within the community, they come from outside the area.

We also discussed the following topics:

  • Pay (Appointed will always cost more than an, an elected one)
  • Transparency
  • The relationship with the school board
  • Pros and cons of an elected superintendent
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