Baker County School Board

This race is nonpartisan, open to all voters

Jack Baker Jr. won 64% of the vote in the August primary and was elected to Baker County School Board’s District 2.

In District 4, Mandi Canaday and Michele Hodges got the most votes in the five-candidate primary race in August, but since either got more than 50% of the vote, they will face off in a runoff on the November ballot.

News4Jax sent a questionnaire to each candidate asking about their background and their views on several issues. Scroll down to read the responses of those seeking your vote -- in their own words.

Note: Responses are sorted alphabetically and are presented exactly as submitted, with no editing by News4Jax staff.


Amanda “Mandi” Canaday

Occupation: Teacher

Age: 46

Your family: Married to Mitch Canaday, and we have two sons; Avery, 23 and William, 18.

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of North Florida -Magna Cum Laude Graduate

Political experience: No prior political experience

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  1. Budget
  2. Population growth effecting schools
  3. Student Achievement

“Parental rights” has recently become a law in Florida and a political buzzword. What does that concept mean to you and how would it affect your decisions on the school board?

  • As a conservative, a mother, a teacher, and a candidate hoping to represent Baker County School Board in the District 4 seat, I believe parents are the first educators in their child’s life and should always be active participants and have a voice in their child’s education. I would protect parental rights by upholding the constitution of the United States 1st amendment of free speech by listening to parent concerns.

How would you balance new state laws and guidelines restricting how history, gender identity and civics can be taught in public school classrooms with the need to educate children in a complex 21st Century society?

  • I believe our focus in pubic schools should continue to be on teaching students how to be civil, how to manage conflict and how to problem solve together so that when they enter adulthood they are well-rounded citizens contributing to the positive growth of our community. I believe new state laws and guidelines overseeing the teaching of history, restricting the teaching of gender identity and civics are appropriate and should be followed.

Outline your ideas to address teacher shortages and morale.

The teacher shortage is nationwide, but Florida recently had state budget increases for teacher salaries bringing Florida from 26th to 9th in the nation for teacher pay. This certainly can help the issue. However, there may be other things we can look at locally that will benefit teachers like offering free before and after school child care through teacher retention grants, as well as seeking new ways to reduce the cost of health insurance costs for employees and families. As a school board member, I will work to seek out new resources and legislative changes that support increased teacher budgets, reduced healthcare costs, and other teacher benefits.

Growing our own teachers in Baker County has been a focus of the teacher cadet program at Baker County High School for several years. As a school board member, I will work with the program’s teachers and administration to help locate the resources needed to expand this program including partnering with area colleges where teacher training programs exist, partnering with corporate businesses that support education, and the regional workforce board. I will also work with the Baker County Education Foundation to expand the number of scholarships awarded to students who are specifically seeking to enter the teaching field.

Teachers play a phenomenal part in building and strengthening our community. As a school board member, I will work to support and expand the teacher hiring practices and strengthen teacher retention.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  • I have a unique perspective due to being a former classroom teacher as well as a parent to children that attended Baker County schools. I am a proud Baker County alumna. I am able to build relationships with faculty as well as the student body and community stakeholders. I have a passion for teaching and advocating for our community. I am able to give my full-time focus to this position where other candidates have other obligations. As a business owner, I understand the importance and confines of a budget and as a former teacher, I am well versed on the ins and outs of the Baker County school system.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

  • I hope to be remembered as an active school board representative who loves the students and teachers of Baker County. I hope the community will remember me as the school board representative who took their concerns seriously and worked diligently to provide answers and solutions while making a positive impact on our community.

Campaign website: N/A

Campaign’s social media site(s): Facebook - Mandi Canaday for Baker County School Board District 4

Jeanie “Michele” Hodges

This candidate has not responded to email and telephone invitations to submit the News4Jax candidate questionnaire.