Slough touts 2 decades of experience in runoff school board race against St. Johns County newcomer

A St. Johns County School Board member of 20 years, Slough is facing a challenger who is also branding herself as a conservative choice

Slough touts two decades of experience in runoff school board race against St. Johns County newcomer

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Beverly Slough has not attempted to hide her political leanings in a role that has historically been considered — and administratively remains — nonpartisan.

The current representative of District 1, Slough was first elected in 2002 and is now running to retain her seat against challenger Racheal Hand.

Slough says her conservative viewpoints began developing at age 11, when she was given a school assignment to watch the televised presidential debate between then-Sen. John F. Kennedy and then-Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960.

“Coming away from that debate, I realized I was a conservative and I had Republican leanings, and I’ve stayed there ever since,” Slough told News4JAX in an interview. “It’s a nonpartisan race. However, it takes five seconds for anybody to figure out where a candidate lies. I am a very conservative, Republican, and have been for all of my whole life.”

UNCUT: Press the play button below to watch the full interview with St. Johns County School Board member Beverly Slough.

News4JAX speaks with St. Johns County School Board member Beverly Slough.

Hand, who is also branding herself as a conservative candidate, is working to convince voters that Slough’s longtime tenure on the board is a sign that she’s become complacent.

“Unfortunately, longevity in these positions can cause complacency, and we’ve seen that more than ever over the last few years,” Hand’s campaign wrote in a July 16 Facebook post. Hand did not cite any specific example of Slough’s complacency.

A screenshot of a July 16, 2022, post on the Facebook page of school board candidate Racheal Hand. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

When News4JAX asked Hand where she and Slough differ, her 20 years of service was not among the issues that Hand raised. Instead, Slough’s longevity was mentioned in the context of an accolade.

“Beverly has done an amazing job in our county. She’s been there for 20 years and I just want to put it out there. I have the utmost respect for her for what she’s accomplished. However, I am a parent that does have children. I am invested personally invested in our county because I have two boys that are in our school system and I am a mama bear, I will do anything and everything for my children and for the children of others, those that are close to me can tell you that. Not to say that that’s not what she is able to do or does. But we need someone that is able to push back, or stand up for parents, for teachers, and our community to feel represented. Unfortunately, there’s been instances where parents have contacted Beverly and for whatever reason, she was not very responsive, was not responding to them, or got the “thank you for your email.” We will look into this and there was no follow-up, we need to make sure that we’re following through.”

Racheal Hand, St. Johns County School Board candidate

Slough serves on the boards of the Florida School Boards Association and United Way Florida and as vice chairman of Florida School Boards Insurance Trust. Slough was also a member of the National School Boards Association.

News4JAX asked Slough to respond to Hand’s criticism that she’s not connected, or “out of touch,” with the community.

“I’m very much in touch. In her experience, I’m probably not because of this reason: My husband had an accident on an airplane on June the 26th and he ended up in an Amsterdam hospital. I flew there on June 27th and we stayed there 22 days, we came back. Then, he was in Mayo hospital for another eight days. [Hand] did not see me interact with the community, she did not see how in touch I am with the community, every single day of the week, Monday through Friday, daylight to dark and past dark. People contact me with their concerns and their problems and I’m a problem solver. I am someone who can address issues and make them better. So, she hasn’t seen that.”

Beverly Slough, St. Johns County School Board member

Slough also pointed to Hand’s recent relocation to St. Johns County, having only moved to Florida in the spring of 2022. She added that during her past 20 years on the board, the St. Johns County School District has been consistently the top-ranked district in the state of Florida, according to U.S. News & World Report and Niche.

“You need look no farther than our scores and our number one standing in the state academically for the past 14 years to understand where we put our priority in the classroom and what we have deposited in our children,” Slough said, responding to Hand’s criticism of her school board tenure.

In interviewing both candidates, one ideological division manifested in the subject of indoctrination.

Slough and Hand are in a runoff election after neither received more than 50% of the votes on Aug. 23. Caniddate Nancy Tray was eliminated after placing third.

CandidatePercentage of votesNumber of votesStatus
Beverly Slough37.6%4,133Nov. 8 runoff
Racheal Hand32.5%3,573Nov. 8 runoff
Nancy Tray30%3,298Eliminated

About the Author:

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.