Challengers were heading off incumbents in two school board races as Spokane County election results trickled in Tuesday night.
Sue Wentz, an East Valley School Board challenger who ran on a platform of change and availability, was solidly ahead of incumbent Karen Cecil in early voting returns.
Wentz praised current East Valley school board members, including Cecil, but said any board can benefit from new ideas.
“I’m just eager to work with the other board reps and find out how the whole system works,” Wentz said. “I’m anxious to make my mark.”
Wentz has put five children through East Valley schools and is a real estate agent.
If re-elected, Cecil had hoped to help oversee expansion of the district’s new Continuous Curriculum School and its alternative programs, she said during the campaign.
In Riverside School District, challenger Tricia Blair appeared headed to a win over school board chairman Janet Hansen.
Hansen, who has five children enrolled in Riverside schools, said she wanted stronger reading programs for early grades.
Blair focused her campaign on making the school board more accessible to the public.
In West Valley, incumbent Pete Schweda was narrowly defeating Robert Estey. Implementing the state’s new academic standards is Schweda’s top goal for the next term. Increased parent and community involvement in schools is another priority, Schweda said. The attorney has served 12 years on the West Valley board.
Estey, a retired educator, said that if elected he would try to establish a teaching atmosphere free of distractions and disruptive students.
Most school districts in Spokane County this fall had few candidates running. Just five outlying districts had contested races. Only in Deer Park and Liberty in southern Spokane County did challengers face off over open seats.
In Deer Park’s school board race, Phil Bray led Joanne Greer. Bray said he hoped to see a stronger emphasis on academics. Greer campaigned for stronger basics in Deer Park schools.
In the Liberty School District, veteran school board member George Engle was leading Robbie Mackay. In a race for an open seat on the Liberty board, retired chemical engineer Marie Telleson led solidly over Michael Dodson, a longtime Spangle resident.
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