Teachers, parents, paras, students, grandparents, and business owners support Billy. Hear from them in their own words.

Shaundra Ellis provided a video.


As an educator, I appreciate it when someone recognizes the hard work and dedication teachers show every day. Billy Townsend partnered with PEA to lobby for raises in a year everyone else said no. As a parent, I appreciate someone advocating for my child as more than just a test score.

Santia Garcia, Polk County Hispanic Education Leader in 2017

I support the re-election of Billy Townsend because he really cares about the wellbeing of special needs children!!! I asked Billy for a yard sign to show my support. We have 2 autistic boys and have a sign on the door asking people not to ring or knock because it can really upset them. He only strengthened my faith in him when I received a text message saying that he had stopped by but didn’t want to ring or knock because of the sign on the door! THAT is the sign of someone who cares about the kids!!!!!! This is why we must Re-elect Billy Townsend!

Cheryl Reed Proud Special needs mom and Vice President PTO at Victory Ridge Academy.

Billy Townsend realizes that decisions for what’s best for Polk County Schools includes the students, families, educators and staff. Good systems have members who are motivated, satisfied and believe their views and opinions count.

Kaila Paige-Culmer, Counselor, Polk County Schools

Four years ago we voted for Billy Townsend because we knew he wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. He takes the time to do the research and dig deep, instead of just voting yes and hoping for the best. Billy Townsend asks the questions to make sure we know where our tax money is spent. Vote to re-elect Billy Townsend on August 18.

Monica and Brad Fales

Seth McGee provided a video.


Thank you Billy for putting Students First. We appreciate your passion and support for ALL students.Thank you for increasing collaboration and being an involved community member. You have always been a voice for parents, students and teachers. On August 18th, I know who to vote for!

Tosha Littles Polk County Public School Parent

As a newly retired Polk County teacher, I am proud to say that I support Billy Townsend. In my more than 20 years in the classroom, he is the first board member who truly has the best interest of students ALWAYS in the forefront. He is a tireless advocate for students, teachers and the public school system. Because of his leadership and attention to detail, we have an active school board that is quickly shifting from a rubber stamp organization, to one which guides policy and keeps the community involved. Thanks Billy, you’ll have my vote on August 18th.

Mark Lockwood, Polk County Public School Teacher, retired

When our son faced admission discrimination, I fought as best I could as his mom, but it was Billy who took the torch and made the difference. He doesn’t just make promises, he does everything in his power to improve the lives of ALL students in Polk County. Billy cares. He takes his job personally. This isn’t just a job for Billy. He’s a keeper and he needs your vote on August 18th

Katherine Vaughn

As a supporter of Billy Townsend, I admire his dedication and passion for education. He is an advocate for teachers and support staff and tirelessly works as a change agent. He is responsive to his constituents and cares about success for all children. Please vote for Billy Townsend!

Pamela Stein Retired Psychological Services Manager, Polk County Schools

In my 8 years of teaching I’ve never met another school board member who took the time to highlight our amazing Arts programs, or took the time to celebrate my work as an Art educator. Billy has my vote!

Najla Lyles, Polk county Visual Arts teacher

DeAnna Marie – I’m a conservative. I trust Billy Townsend. Watch my video testimonial. 

Solid public education is the linchpin to creating a community where people want to live and build their businesses. Billy Townsend understands that when public schools are better, it is better for everyone; (students, teachers and the community) they make our county more desirable to business.

Tracie Carley, parent and small business owner

For too long, we’ve sat back thinking that there wasn’t much we could do to influence the people making the decisions. Mr. Townsend’s four years on the board has changed that. The transparency and access to information for which he has advocated has empowered many teachers like me. We need that type of leadership to move forward, Please vote for Billy Townsend on August 18th, for the betterment of our students, our classrooms and our community.

Deborah Natale-Towles, Polk County Public School Teacher

I am a parent of two PCPS students and the wife of a PCPS teacher. Having Billy Townsend as a school board member means that my family has someone in our corner: someone willing and able to ask the most important questions, someone who values integrity rather than simply being “positive.” Billy stands up for teachers, he advocates for students. He puts results before politics. Billy Townsend has earned my respect, my gratitude, and my vote on August 18th.

Erin Cooper Polk County Public School Parent

Billy makes the school board transparent. He ensures that the PUBLIC is informed about what is going on with our ELECTED and UNELECTED officials. He genuinely cares about the welfare of our students and teachers. If he doesn’t know then he will bring in the experts to show him and others. He fights WITH teachers to better the state of education and ensures our voices are heard. He also works to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities in their education and that they are not just seen as a pawn in the game of school grades!

Casey Zych Dodge, Polk County Public School Teacher

As a public school parent, I have been impressed with the leadership and care Billy Townsend has displayed since being elected in 2016. He brings a strong voice to the Polk County School Board and truly advocates for teachers/staff, students, and their families. Billy always makes himself available and works tirelessly to improve our school system. The transparency and accessibility he has brought to the school board is vitally important and for that reason, he will once again get my vote on August 18th.

Danny Rodriguez, Parent of Public School Student

Why I am voting for Billy Townsend. He stands for the benefit of students. He speaks out against injustice within the educational system and seeks to foster transparency within that system. He wants results and demands evidence that the “solution” will help students to achieve; he does not just rubber stamp programs because that is what others want to do. I am an art teacher and have witnessed Mr. Townsend come out to several county art events. He always seemed happy to be there, and eagerly talks to the students present at these events. I have seen him purchase student artworks, and to see the light in an art student awaken as they realize their art has value and means something to another person is a value beyond money. The other reason I am voting for Mr. Townsend; he values my profession. He stands with teachers. He spoke out when Ms. Byrd tried to intimate the teachers of Polk County (by possibly firing them), who wanted to go to Tallahassee to rally to try to get the State legislature to increase educational spending. That was for ALL educational spending, not solely wage increases.

John Aho, Polk County School teacher and father

I was a regional director for the national teachers’ association for over 15 years, attending countless school board meetings in several states. I have never seen a school board member more in tune with the issues than Billy Townsend . He gets it. Billy understands the destructive nature of testing culture, the lack of funding from the state legislature and the state’s insistence on micro-managing our schools. He goes beyond “getting it” — he acts on it. Billy is a fearless advocate for public education who won’t back down!

Jeff Kology, retired PCPs teacher

In a world that’s gone crazy, Billy continues to exhibit common sense. He has proven time and again that he believes that Public Education belongs to the Public and the Public should have a voice. As a member of Polk Schools Support Staff, I have had many interactions with Billy and he is always open to honest, sincere discussions, and has done everything within his power to help resolve issues. He will sit down with anyone and has even visited sites to personally understand the conditions “on the ground”. Billy understands that Public Education is a large machine that has many moving parts. Each must work together in order to function properly, from the State Legislators, Administrators, Teachers, Students, Parents, and the often forgotten Custodians, Carpenters, Painters, Food Service Workers, and Grounds Keepers. He engages with the entire Community and works hard to find a functional balance. If you long for the return of Common Sense and the belief in the Community having a voice, there is no choice but to re-elect Billy Townsend, District 1.

Matt Ager, Painter – PCSB

I chose to and will vote for Billy Townsend. My vote is for him because he not only listens, but he takes action. Many people talk. Billy walks the walk. He puts his words into action. He is always there. He asks tough questions, and he stands up for students and teachers. He is the voice for everybody in the community.

Val Kendrick, Polk County Public School Teacher

My mommy is a teacher and she works really hard every day helping students learn in public schools. She even got picked to be on TV for being a great teacher! I can’t wait to go to school one day and have great teachers like mommy!! My mommy says that voting for Billy Townsend would help make public schools better for teachers and future students like me.
Bethany, my mommy is ESE teacher Ashlyn Cobb

Billy Townsend is accessible, engaged, and willing to work for our schools. Before he took office it would never occur to me to directly ask a school board member a question or to invite them to a event. I have done both with Billy. My teammates and I held a mock Ellis Island experience for our third graders. On a whim I asked Billy if he’d like to join us. Join us he did and then some! He actively participated with the children, playing the part of an intake officer, asking the children questions and teaching them about different areas of the world. He understood that this was a learning experience in action and valued it as such. I feel his accessibility to those he represents is a gift to the staff, the students, and the community. It’s a gift I hope others will choose to open by re-electing Billy Townsend.

Jill Steinbauer

Right now, we have been thrust into challenging and uncertain times as teachers. As a new teacher, it can be overwhelming–but with someone like Billy Townsend on the school board, I have been able to stay informed and feel supported. He is genuine, transparent, and uses his voice to advocate for everyone in the Polk County school system. It is essential that we re-elect Billy Townsend to the school board on August 18th.

Chad Sell, PSCB teacher

I am voting for Billy Townsend because he actually cares about students and teachers as human beings, not just data. I want him to be able to continue to be a voice for all of us.

Laura Cronin

In my 21 years educating the children of Polk County I have never had my voice heard and taken so personally as Billy Townsend did. I requested his help regarding an issue and he not only immediately put my mind at ease but helped to resolve my concerns. He took time for little ol’ me. A classroom teacher. While the scenario I’ve described may seem like an every day occurrence for our elected board members, I can assure you it is not for all of them. Billy is present and transparent and his achievements as a board member speak for themselves. Now it is our turn to speak for Billy!

Carissa Lloyd

Billy Townsend is a champion for Polk’s schools. He has put himself on the line fighting back against Tallahassee’s attempt to decimate local control of our schools. Billy never stops advocating for Polk’s students and all those who help to educate them. That’s why I will, again, vote for Billy Townsend.

Branden Lane

Linda Buchelt Spaulding tells why she is voting for Billy Townsend in THIS VIDEO.

As a veteran Polk County teacher, I will vote for Billy because in my 16 year career in Polk, he was a school board member that brought transparency in a way never witnessed before. Billy is unafraid to challenge the way it’s always been done-the status quo. Billy is not only passionate, but a brilliant influencer who prioritizes Polk students, their teachers, and the staff that supports them.

Maggie Miller MyCareerShines Lead Florida Professional Developer

I will vote for Billy Townsend because he is “hands-on,” forthright, and honest. He cares about our students’ and teachers’ physical and mental health. I know that I have an advocate and an ally with him serving on the school board.

Susan Kearns, Grandparent and Polk County Public School teacher

THIS is why he has my vote. He’s been the voice for those that had none. He’s endured personal attacks for questioning the status quo. He’s challenged the rubber stamp majority of the board and held them accountable. He’s created a culture of transparency. He works for educators and more importantly, our kids and community. Vote Townsend.

Sherry Ross

Working in the school system it is imperative for our elected board members to be transparent with content, delivery, and ideas. Once their cards are all on the table and there is no hidden agenda many things can be worked on to better our schools for staff and students alike. I have found that Billy Townsend is easy to read and I am not confused on where he stands on subjects and that is refreshing. I will be voting for Mr. Townsend this upcoming election. I need someone in the front listening to us so I can create magic for my students.

Brandie Gogel

I respect Billy Townsend because he communicates with the people he serves. Many times I’ve asked, “Why are so many board members silent?” Not Billy. Without communication, there is no relationship. Without relationship, we cannot grow into a society of care, understanding, and progress. Billy is encouraging, transparent, honest, thoughtful, and supportive to all involved in education. Billy Townsend has your child’s best interests at heart and voting for Billy is voting for your child’s success!

Brittany Gartrell Polk County School Board Teacher and Parent

With a county the size of Delaware, it is easy to feel disconnected when you live way out in Eastern Polk. Billy’s accessibility and transparency – what I call “The Townsend Effect” – enables us to be much more engaged in our children’s education at the district level than ever before. As a trans woman and atheist, I have so appreciated Billy’s advocacy for the voiceless and marginalized, and his point of view that our public schools proudly serve ALL families.

Sarah Ray, Polk County Public School Parent & Podcast Producer

As a teacher I support Billy Townsend fully. Billy has been a voice for not just teachers and staff but public education as a whole. He has done a great job at bringing about transparency and holding leaders accountable. He is the one that we need sitting on the board advocating for leaders to do what’s right for public education and better our public schools. Billy has had the backs of students and teachers on numerous occasions. Join me and vote Billy Townsend District 1.

Laura Allgood

I am voting for Billy Townsend because every kid needs a champion. In the last four years, Billy has served Polk County with passion, determination, and honesty. His character always reflects his top priorities: the students, teachers, and families of Polk County. Billy has brought transparency to his role, telling the truth to us all even when it is difficult. Thank you, Billy Townsend, for fighting for our community! Let us keep this momentum going. Vote for Billy on August 18th!

Amanda Russell Parity Coaching and Development Former Public School Teacher of 17 years

I have seen school board members come and go in my 12 years with PCSB. I have had a unique perspective because I have been a School Bus Driver, a Para, and now work with Books Bridge Bus. I have never seen a person with such down home values, integrity and an ability to keep me informed as Billy Townsend does. He is a smart and honest man that greatly represents me as a parent and a staff member. He is one of us. Re-elect Billy Townsend on August 18th.

Jennifer Leaman

I believe in Billy Townsend because he believes in me. Since meeting him I have felt that Billy believes I am a knowledgeable professional with valuable insight into what is best for my students. He places value in my experience and is willing to spend the time understanding all aspects of a situation to make the best informed decision. Because of this, to me the only logical choice for school board is Billy Townsend.

Christy McCollough

Billy Townsend puts his mouth where his money is, vocally advocating for a strong fair educational system for all learners – unafraid to ask tough questions, confront issues, demand answers. There are not enough Billy Townsends stepping up to strengthen education, with common sense, critical analysis, positive support. His genuine care for Polk children deserves our vote.

– Dana K. Kelly

As a pre-service teacher dreaming of a career as an educator, it has been demoralizing to observe how teachers have been treated over the last years. I am thankful for the leaders in our community who have taken a stand for our schools. Billy Townsend has inspired me to continue to fight for my future and push for the equality we deserve.

Gelimar Rodriguez, ESOL Paraprofessional and Pre-Service Teacher

Polk County teachers need a Champion in their corner fighting for the needs of our students, families, and our profession. Billy Townsend is an out of the box thinker who is current on trending education issues, accessible to teachers to discuss problem-solving solutions and supports ALL teachers who are on the frontline.

– Jennie Cyran

Billy Townsend fights to support both our teachers and students, and doesn’t give up even when the going gets tough. He is not afraid to ask – and answer – controversial questions. He examines the facts, seeks the truth and he won’t quit until the real story is told.

Linda Brett, 2011 Polk County Public School Teacher of the Year

Authenticity. Integrity. Ethical action. Intelligence. Social justice. Unwavering support for public schools! These things matter to me. If they matter to you, join me and vote for Billy!

Mary Ann Murdoch – Professor, journalist, doctoral candidate in education, and mother of a special-needs Polk County public school student

As a teacher working in Polk County, I support Billy Townsend 100%.  Due to the lack of support and mentality of the board for many years, teachers want to leave the county, quit teaching, or go to charter schools and I for one cannot blame them.  I too, work for a charter school due to the lack of support from the district especially for our special education students.  With that said, if Billy Townsend was in charge doing what he feels in his heart is best for teachers and students, there is no one who would want to leave and those that left would want to come back.  He treats us like teachers with respect and to help keep us safe as well as our students instead of just a body in the classroom. With that support, Polk County would be envied by other counties.

Tracy Latner – Special Education/Intensive Reading teacher.  

Billy Townsend has been a great addition to the school board. He provides transparency, fights for our students and teachers, and always has our best interest. I voted for Billy 4 years ago and will do so again this election.

Jessica Kulp

Our family voted to re-elect Billy because we want to make sure that our students and teachers are represented by someone who is willing to stand and fight for them and WITH them. Billy earned my respect when he was on the forefront of the Rally in Tally movement. He has continued to impress me with his accessibility, transparency, and willingness to question the powers-that-be even at the hand of harsh criticism. And finally, having Billy’s voice to help end the “Test and Punish” culture of our schools gives me great hope for my children!

Kelly Spezano, parent

It is imperative that teachers have authentic recognition on our School Board, and I can say with confidence that Billy is exactly that. As a supporter of Billy Townsend, I appreciate his dedication in being an ally for educators and a powerhouse of a voice for our students. His diligence and dedication are some of the many reasons I will vote for his re-election.

Dakota Roman

Billy Townsend is an indispensable member of our School Board. He will have my vote in his re-election because of his proven authenticity as a fierce advocate for educators and students alike. Billy truly works from the heart and always has our best intentions in mind. He is not afraid to dig deep and ask the necessary questions to get the job done. We should all be voting for Billy Townsend on August 18th!

Gabrielle Roman

Parents in Polk County need to know which elected School Board official will support our children’s needs, and be our voice during such a pivotal time in history. Billy Townsend has championed our efforts to reduce high-stakes testing, and bring recess policies in line with AAP recommendations. He’ll continue to bring transparency, and ask the hard questions that keep the needs of the people at the forefront. I voted for him four years ago, and will proudly vote for him in the primary elections on August 18th!

Mandy Lipham

My mommy works very hard as a public school teacher. She makes sure that her students understand how to write, and she tries very hard to get them to be successful. Her students just got the highest AP English scores in the history of her school! She was so proud of them. She says Billy Townsend wants teachers to be able to teach so that each and every student can be successful! My mommy says that a vote for Billy Townsend is a vote for the future of public education. Billy fights for education and learning the way that works for students.

Huckleberry Finn-Polk county pup Rebekah Paton-Public School Teacher

Polk County educators know that Billy Townsend has been a champion for our issues… and has done more to support our cause than anyone I have seen come and go during my thirty-two year tenure in this community.

Polk County residents: PLEASE make plans to get to the polls in August to vote to keep his seat at the table

Lois Horn-Diaz, 2017 Polk County Teacher of the Year

I support the re-election of Billy Townsend because he cares more about doing his job than holding an office. He is tenacious and persistent as only a trained journalist can be. That is necessary. He’s not about glad-handing, but cares about the common best interests of students, teachers, and staff. Billy has written a book on historical grappling with racism after WW I, and essays regarding Seminole Indians. know that he is anti-racist. I like that he is fearless. I like that he rocks the boat. Re-elect Billy Townsend on August 18th.

Becky Able, Polk County Public School Parent, Food and Entertainment Liaison at local Brewery and Retired Social Worker

I voted for Billy because he ran on a platform of eliminating insane amount of testing our state and district has been (and continues to) force on students. He cracked me up carrying that huge testing calendar to events. While change is hard, Polk truly needs it. This county has a long history of high drop-out, suspension/expulsion, and low graduation rates for students from diverse backgrounds and those with disabilities. It is only through challenging the status quo will we be able to move forward and improve educational outcomes for our district’s underserved and marginalized populations (like reducing testing and advocating for ethical and fiscal responsibility). Billy is all about openly discussing tough issues and giving voice to those most directly impacted (teachers, families, students). In my view, this is the most anti-racist and anti-ableist that any of us can do. Thanks Billy, you are a true hero to our increasingly diverse and high-need community.

Sarah Semon, PhD, Former Polk County Public School Teacher USF Instructor & Leadership Grant Co-PI President, Parity Coaching & Development

I voted for Billy Townsend four years ago because he had been a voice for public education long before he ran for School Board. And since being elected, he has continued advocating for quality public schools for our entire community. I am proud to have voted for Billy Townsend in 2016, and I look forward to voting for him again this year.

Bruce M. Sabin, Pastor and Polk County Public School Teacher

Billy has been a long time advocate and ally for LGBTQ+ students, parents, and educators. He has always stood up for the voiceless, even in the deafening silence of his colleagues. We need Billy on our school board to continue to fight for the well being of our LGBTQ+ students, parents, and educators. Make sure your August 18th voting plan includes re-electing Billy Townsend!

Taylor Aguilera Polk County Public School Parent

Ledger Letters to the Editor:

I, along with many of my coworkers, am left disgusted by Gow Fields’s comments at Polk County’s School Board meeting on July 14. It is unconscionable to compare two School Board members doing the job they were elected to do, to a murder.

I feel strongly that Mr. Fields owes both Mr. Townsend and Mrs. Miller a public apology. We can differ in views and we can differ in how we come to express those views, but this insensitive comparison was far more than just unprofessional.

STORY>>Polk school board member target of racial allegations

I’ve been a teacher in Polk County for 20 years. I’ve never seen anyone on the board fight more to improve our schools than Mr. Townsend, and now he is being personally attacked and called a racist for no other reason than to get him voted out of the position that he has used solely for the betterment our students, teachers and classrooms.

Many people don’t like how he has fought that fight, but has anyone else fought for us? No. The transparency and access to information for which he has advocated has empowered many teachers like me. We need that type of leadership to move forward. Vote Billy Townsend on Aug. 18.

Deborah Natale Towles, Lakeland

As a public school parent, a teacher and a pastor, I want to see all families in Polk County supported by their elected officials. And, over the last four years, I have observed one particular person do this with his words and actions. Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend has been a great leader in our community.

I voted for him four years ago because he had been a voice for public education long before he ran for School Board. And since being elected, he has continued advocating for quality public schools for our entire community.

As a Board member, he has also done great work increasing the transparency of Board and School District actions. Not only has he lived up to my expectations as an elected official, but he has gone above and beyond. For example, he was one of only three Board members who joined teachers in Tallahassee to protest for better funding for our schools.,/em>

I am proud to have voted for Billy Townsend once, and I look forward to voting for him again this year.

Bruce Sabin, Lakeland