A South Florida professor who once gained infamy for giving an assignment to his students to “stomp on Jesus” is now trying to become the next Palm Beach County supervisor of elections.
Deandre Poole is looking to succeed Susan Bucher in the role. Bucher is the disgraced former supervisor who resigned after being suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis. She failed to report election results on time during the 2018 mid-term elections, making her a national pariah.
Poole, 32, is a political novice but feels that his history as a political activist, community leader, and grassroots organizer “are the kind of skills that this office needs.”
His competition will be Paulette Armstead, 68, who lost while making runs for the state House of Representatives in Broward County in 2016 and 2018. She changed her voting registration to Palm Beach County following her second defeat.
Poole was the focus of widespread anger following his “Stomp on Jesus” assignment back in 2013, which was picked up by Fox News and other conservative outlets.
He asked students to write “J-E-S-U-S” on a piece of paper, place it on the ground, and then step on it. He claimed it was based on a textbook from an instructor at a Christian college, but that excuse did not spare him the public backlash.
“What a just bonehead thing to do,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on “Fox & Friends” during the time of the controversy, adding that the professor would not have dared doing the same exercise with “Mohammad” or a different religious leader.
“If you stomp on a flag, if you stomp on a cross, if you stomp on, you know, any particular sensitivity, it’s one thing to say I don’t believe in that, I don’t respect it, but to stomp on it is an act of aggressive behavior toward something and it shows an utter lack of sensitivity…stomping on somebody’s holy object or name is a little different,” Huckabee added.
Poole now admits some fault and takes some responsibility for the error of his decision to issue the controversial assignment.
“It was an exercise that was misinterpreted. If I could do it over again, I would have made it my point to be more vocal and to do more interviews about it,” he said. “Looking back, that was one of the areas that I could have improved on.”
If Poole ultimately is successful, he will be in charge of all elections happening in the county. Palm Beach County is the third largest in Florida in terms of population size. He will have an especially difficult task on his hands because the county is known for close elections.
A U.S. Senate race came down to a 10,033 vote margin while a state House race in Palm Beach County was decided by a mere 32 votes in 2018. The stakes will be even higher in 2020, and Poole may have the chance to influence an election if the Democratic University academic is not on the level.
“As leaders we owe it to the public to ensure that we have the staff, and that we have all the equipment that we need to ensure that we run a smooth election,” Poole said.
“My three points are integrity, efficiency and accuracy. What I’m hearing from people is they don’t trust that their vote will count,” he added. “People want to make sure that they have somebody in that office that they feel has the integrity to be able to ensure that if they send in an absentee ballot or if they go to the polls and vote it will count.”
Poole was once the vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party and served a party officer for eight years.
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