FAU “stomp on Jesus” professor running for Palm Beach office

Dr. Deandre Poole is running for the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections in 2020. His main goal is eliminating voter suppression.


Deandre Poole, a professor of communications at FAU, is running for Palm Beach County office. Photo courtesy of Poole

Cameren Boatner, Editor in Chief

In 2013, communication professor Deandre Poole was nationally criticized for his lesson involving stepping on a paper with “Jesus” written on it.


After a Mormon student told the media about the lesson, Poole received national criticism, FAU placed him on leave then later reinstated him. Six years later, he’s in the headlines again. Poole is running for Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections in 2020 with the Democratic party.


The supervisor of elections conducts the elections in Palm Beach County, hires and trains poll workers, and provides voting information and statistics.  Poole says if he’s elected, he’ll implement voter education campaigns, and bring back efficiency, accuracy, and security to the voting process.


“I will be a supervisor that will restore the faith in the office that we have lost,” Poole said, referring to events during the October 2018 elections in Georgia.


A bus of African American seniors was stopped on its way to vote in the Jefferson County, Georgia elections, because the organization driving the bus didn’t have the correct license, according to the progressive news site ThinkProgress. The bus of about 40 seniors never made it out to the polls. Locals and a representative from the organization Black Votes Matter said the incident was voter suppression.


“We have a history in this country of voter suppression and in particular this was a group of African American seniors, and for me sitting there I had to say ‘I have to be a part of this fight for people’s constitutional right to vote,’” Poole said.


The Boca Raton native is running against Paulette Armstead, who previously ran for office in Broward County. In the 2017-2018 year, the salary for the Supervisor of Elections was $169,071, according to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.


According to his FAU bio, he represented Florida as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in the 2016 elections. He’s also served as a City of West Palm Beach committee member since 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile.


Poole also cited his background of civic engagement and activism in areas including, but not limited to:


  • The Palm Beach County Democratic Party
  • Black student achievement
  • Criminal justice


The ‘Jesus Stomp’


The Jesus stomping lesson came from the textbook Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, the UP previously reported. Poole said the media spun the lesson negatively, when it was supposed to teach symbolism and its impact.


“It was characterized by the media as the ‘Jesus stomp.’ I never used those words. It’s this kind of vitriol that caused a lot of the hate mail and death threats that I received because of how the story was spun,” Poole said.


But despite the negative attention from 2013, Poole believes the media coverage will benefit him in the elections.


Poole hasn’t had much backlash since he announced his run on May 1, but hopes FAU students help him in his campaign and get out to vote.


One student’s vote Poole doesn’t have is College Republicans President Steven Westervelt. He said if Poole won, it would be “damning” because of his lesson. He believes Poole, who he acknowledged as Christian, may be biased against candidates who tout religious freedom while overseeing elections.


Contrary to Westervelt’s opinion, Poole believes he’s what the office needs to build a better image in connection to the community.


“There is a lot of interest that people have around that whole situation, and I don’t think it will hurt me,” Poole said. “If anything, it will help and show people that it was a whole misunderstanding.”


Cameren Boatner is the editor in chief of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].