Candidate Profile: Cindy Spray

Staff Report
Cindy Spray, Vice-Chair of the Manatee School District Citizens Oversight Committee, will compete with former Bradenton City Councilman Harold Byrd for the Manatee County School Board's District 2 seat on the November ballot in a non-partisan runoff.

In August, Spray, who'd been one of three candidates to receive the endorsement of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, led three candidates with 39 percent of the vote. Byrd received 35.5 percent, while audit committee member Susan Arguso got 25.5 percent of the vote. When no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top two vote-getters compete in a November runoff.

Spray boasts a long record of volunteer service to the district and has been an advocate on numerous educational issues.

"I have been involved with the 1 mil tax since its inception," said Spray in her candidate's statement. "I now serve as the (CFOC) to represent the citizens of Manatee County and still believe teachers should be paid from the core budget."

An Indiana native, Spray attended Indiana University where she studied psychology before transferring to Indiana Business College to study accounting. She initially worked in bookkeeping and was later appointed to serve as the co-chair in researching software programs to integrate a new bookkeeping system to meet the needs of the business she worked for. 

Spray later moved into the manufacturing sector with PepsiCo at Frito Lay, where she worked in purchasing, logistic maintenance, manufacturing maintenance, and payroll. She was a volunteer assistant coach of the Frankfort Varsity and Jr Varsity tennis teams, and later became the head coach at Rossville High School, taking the boys' team to all-conference in their division. 

In 2008, she transferred her employment to Bradenton to work as the bookkeeper at the now-defunct Tropicana Federal Credit Union. She is the author of Crying Without Tears, an Amazon bestseller that depicts her journey of being raised in a family of poverty and child abuse, an experience that has led to Spray becoming a strong advocate of the Manatee County foster care system. 

She is currently the Vice President of the Manatee County Foster & Adoptive Parent Association, as well as a Board Member of Guardian Angels of Southwest Florida where homes are built to accommodate foster siblings remaining together as much as possible.

Spray also serves on the Board of Directors of the Tiger Bay Club and is a volunteer for local veteran fundraising events across the county. She has been married to her husband, Dave, for 29 years. They have three children, one of whom is a teacher.

Spray has raised a little over $18,000, as of the last reporting period, while Byrd has raised a little over $32,000. Spray has received numerous donations from local office holders and candidates, including Vanessa Baugh, George Kruse, Mike Rahn, and Jason Bearden.