Alfie Oakes backed candidates win Collier County School Board races

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Winning Collier County School Board candidates. (Credit: WINK News)

There are new faces in new places, as three new candidates defeated incumbents in key elections in Collier County.

One of the most influential Republican figures in the county, Alfie Oakes, picked out three candidates who he thought should be elected to the Collier County School Board, devoting time and money to their races.

Alfie Oakes. (Credit: WINK News)

Oakes is a staunch conservative with deep pockets and the owner of Seed to Table grocery store.

He put his money where his views are, supporting Collier County School Board candidates who agree with him on masks, critical race theory, and other social issues.

On Election Day, it became clear that an endorsement from Alfie Oakes meant the difference between victory and defeat.

Voters at Moorings Presbyterian Church had a bit of a wait Tuesday, 30 minutes to an hour.

Michele Bokos said she stood in line for 45 minutes, but she didn’t mind. She was there for a reason. “Schools. We want to keep things fairly conservative, I would say.”

Bokos wasn’t the only Collier County voter motivated by schools.

At the polling place off Orange Tree, most signholders pushed school board candidates. Among them was Seed to Table owner Alfie Oakes.

“It’s for the children,” said Oakes.

It’s not the first time Oakes has gotten involved with Collier schools. Last year he was escorted out of a school board meeting on textbooks.

His style is bombastic and popular, and his ideas are influential in Collier County.

“Yeah, well, we became a bit of a brand of patriotism,” said Oakes.

Merchandise table outside Oakes’ Seed to Table grocery store. (Credit WINK News)

Patriotism and conservatism. Outside Seed to Table, Governor Ron DeSantis and let’s go Brandon merch is sold. On the doors is a sticker that reads “Traitor Joe’s.”

Right next to it is a poster showing “Alfie’s freedom picks.” Those candidates include the newest school board members elected Tuesday; Kelly Lichter, Jerry Rutherford, and Tim Moshier.

WINK News asked Oakes if he hand-picked the candidates.

“We vetted everyone,” said Oakes. “To me, this is about who is going to be strong, who’s going to uphold the constitutional values that are necessary for us to do the right thing in the school board.”

The school board member-elects have that chance, and they know why.

“For Alfie Oakes, I think that was more than beneficial. I would have never made it without him,” said Rutherford.

“I agree with just about everything he’s doing, starting with the mask mandate, and just everything he’s done seems to turn out very well,” said Moshier.

School board member Jen Mitchell was the target of Alfie Oakes and his political action committee, Citizens Awake Now.

The PAC paid for a mailer calling Mitchell a “Liberal warrior,” a label she couldn’t shake during the campaign. Mitchell lost with 41% of the vote.

When voters went to the polls Tuesday, they weren’t just picking school board members, they were picking people who will help decide on the next Collier County Public Schools superintendent.

As the mom of two school-aged kids, Sammi Treglown was well aware of that when she cast her ballot.

“Honestly, I think what Dr. Patton did was great and all, but I think a new breath of fresh air would be excellent,” said Treglown.

Treglown will get that breath of fresh air. Dr. Kamala Patton is on her way out, and the school board voted this week to award a search firm a contract to help pick someone new.

Newly elected school board members Lichter, Rutherford and Moshier will play an integral role in choosing the new leader.

“One of the things I want to see in a superintendent is high moral values. We need that. Second thing is working knowledge of our history and our founding documents. I would expect that to be true anyway. And then also a desire for to eliminate illiteracy in the schools,” said Rutherford.

“Someone that actually (ran) a school board before it knows how to handle a budget education, someone with a little more classical education and see what we can come up with,” said Moshier.

Oakes said he knows they’ll make the right choice. It’s part of the reason he endorsed them and got so involved in this race, raising money through his PAC,

He compared their pick of a new superintendent to Donald Trump picking a new supreme court justice.

“With the school board right now, we have the majority of people that aren’t thinking that they appreciate the constitution and they want to do the right things for our kids, so I have you know I have complete confidence that this board is going to find a really good superintendent for our school,” said Oakes.

If you want to give input or find out more about the search for the superintendent, click here.

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