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Incumbent Mike Wiser beats out challenger in Spokane Public Schools only contested board race

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 7, 2017, 9:35 p.m.

Incumbent Spokane School Board member Mike Wiser beat challenger Jennifer Thomas in the district’s only contested board race.

As of Tuesday, Wiser had 63 percent of the vote compared to Thomas’ 37 percent.

Wiser said an “overall positive community sentiment” toward the school district helped him win the election.

“I think the board is a pretty strong board right now, and there is not a compelling reason I would see to want to turn the board over,” Wiser said.

Wiser, 44, is the vice president of strategic planning for CHAS Health and was appointed to the board in March.

In the primary election Wiser received 56 percent of the vote. However, Thomas ran an active and visible campaign and ended up raising more money than Wiser.

“She did work really well,” Wiser said. “The primary feels like a long time ago and there are bunch of new voters who vote in the general, so yeah, I was definitely relieved when I saw the results.”

Thomas, 40, is director of business development for the Jonah Project and has a background in sales and fundraising.

Although disappointed to lose, Thomas said she’s glad the race focused on issues and “didn’t get personal.”

She credited Wiser’s win to his incumbency and some high-profile endorsements, including the Spokane Education Association.

“I’m really proud of the race that I ran,” Thomas said.

She said she is disappointed because there are “fundamental places where we disagree.”

While both candidates said they’d focus on addressing educational inequality and better supporting special education students, they differed on some hot-botton issues.

While campaigning, Thomas opposed the implementation of the Get Real sex education curriculum and said she would like to see campus resource officers armed with guns. Thomas also said she believed parents should be allowed to decide if their unvaccinated children should attend school during outbreaks.

Wiser said the district should defer to the Spokane Regional Health District on whether unvaccinated students should attend school. He doesn’t believe campus resources officers should be armed and is open to adopting the Get Real curriculum.

Sitting school board members Deana Brower and Sue Chapin donated to Wiser’s campaing. Wiser raised nearly $10,000.

Thomas raised more than $10,000.

Board President Brower ran unopposed in her race, receiving 97 percent of the vote.