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Freeman, Liberty school board races appear decided

Freeman School Board election results came down to the wire as two challengers waged a campaign for an empty seat and an incumbent was unseated in the Liberty School District.

On election night Allen Crist was ahead by 11 votes for position 1 in Freeman. As the week wore on, his lead dropped to one, then his opponent John Zingg took the lead. Last week, with a few votes left to be counted, Crist said he was taking a wait-and-see approach. “It’ll definitely come down to the end,” he said. “I definitely would love to be on the school board. I love Freeman, that’s one of the reasons I ran for it.”

The days since Nov. 3 have been tough, Crist said. Many people only saw the election night results and were congratulating him on his win.

By last week, however, the election appeared decided. The tally stood at 742 votes for Zingg and 700 for Crist, with only 250 Spokane County ballots left to be counted before the results are certified on Nov. 24.

Zingg said he knew the election was still in doubt when he saw the first results. “We know we had on election night a very low count in some of the crucial precincts,” he said.

He said he began his campaign in June with no real expectations. “I knew that I was dealing with someone who has significant roots that go way back in the community and I was going to have to do my utmost to come out on top,” he said.

While Zingg has no children in the district, he has been an active volunteer with the schools for the past few years. Zingg said he sees himself as a voice for the voters in the school district who also do not have any children in school. “I represent about 60 percent of the voters,” he said. “I think it speaks volumes about my commitment. I’m not doing it because I have any self-interest.”

When he takes office later this month, Zingg sees his most important task as continuing the direction the school board has been going in and completing the construction projects planned.

In the Liberty School District, Chad Cornmesser has unseated board member Ron Cockle. The two men are friends and Cornmesser said he wasn’t running against Cockle; he just wanted to have a chance to serve on the board before the last of his children graduates.

Cornmesser said Cockle has volunteered to show him the ropes. “Ron invited me to come talk to him and we’ll probably sit down,” he said.

Overall Cornmesser was pleased to see the number of voters who participated in the election. He received 778 votes while Cockle got 477, close to the number of votes cast in the much larger Freeman district. “Maybe it does say that people are interested in what’s going on,” he said.