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School Candidates Looking Forward To November Central Valley, East Valley Voter Turnout Low For Primary Election

Voters choosing board members for the Central Valley School District favored two incumbents and a community volunteer in Tuesday’s primary.

“I’m excited, but I see a challenge in front of me,” said incumbent Cheryl Knighton, who garnered 40.5 percent of the vote in one of three CV board races.

In a year when board members will choose a new superintendent and try to pass a $23 million bond, four out of five board positions are up for grabs. But only three were contested in the primary.

Three people ran for each of the contested positions. The top two vote-winners will advance to the general election in November.

Knighton, a homemaker who is active on many Central Valley committees and in the sheriff’s community oriented policing effort, will face off against Craig Holmes in November. Holmes, a former Baptist pastor who works as a financial analyst, received 33.3 percent.

“I’m feeling great,” said Holmes. “Both Cheryl and I have been heavily involved in the district. (People) voted for that experience.”

Self-employed attorney Peter Hawkins came in third with 26.1 percent. Hawkins was surprised at the low voter turnout in the primary. Of the district’s 30,515 eligible voters, only 5,200 voted, or about 17 percent.

Voters heavily favored board President Kay Bryant over her two challengers. Bryant, the human resources manager for Community Colleges of Spokane, received 52.6 percent, putting her above second-place finisher Matthew Hawkins’ 32.1 percent. Calvin Cooney, who also ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner last year, finished third with 15.2 percent.

Matthew Hawkins, who is candidate Peter Hawkins’ brother, said he was thrilled with the results despite the 20 percentage points between his and Bryant’s results.

“I see (Bryant) as a formidable opponent but I see that there’s a lot of room to make it in the general election,” said Hawkins, a real estate broker.

The third position was wide open as 12-year board member Linda Tompkins decided not to run again. Community volunteer and former teacher Patty Minnihan topped the pack of three contenders with 43.7 percent.

Minnihan will face off against retired Air Force Master Sergeant George Springer, who pulled in 31.4 percent. Deputy Sheriff John Pardee came in third with 24.9 percent.

“I’ve got an opponent that’s just the opposite of me,” said Springer, who firmly supports local control of the district and a return to basics in education. “(Minnihan) has worked for the establishment and I need to work for the people, not the school district.”

Voter turnout also was low in the East Valley School Board election, where two positions are open but only one was contested. Of 10,100 eligible voters, only 1,500, or 15 percent, voted.

Marie Francis, a former teacher and mother of four children in East Valley schools, finished first out of three people competing with 48.17 percent.

Donald Glaser, who was a maintenance supervisor for East Valley for six years before being laid off during a district restructuring, came in second with 39 percent. Emon Olson finished last with 12.8 percent.

Francis, called herself a “spokesman for the kids” and said she was happy with the results. But she added, “In between now and the finals, I have to do a lot more publicizing.”

, DataTimes