Tony Bennett, Randy Dunn and Charles Hokanson Jr. each spent roughly an hour Tuesday outlining their education philosophies and work experience in a meeting at Tampa's airport hotel. They also faced questions about their ability to manage large organizations and work with the governor and board — issues that plagued former Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson, who resigned abruptly in July after only a year.
After the interviews, board chairman Gary Chartrand wouldn't say which of the finalists was his favorite.
"All three candidates are high quality and each had their strengths and weaknesses," he said. "I will say that I do think our next education commissioner is among the three."
It is the board's second education commissioner search since Gov. Rick Scott was elected in 2010.
The three finalists surfaced after the Board of Education decided in September to extend the application deadline by two months. Many felt the initial pool of candidates was lackluster.