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6 incumbents re-elected to state school board

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 3 2010 12:20 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Incumbents on the State Board of Education were favored across the board in Tuesday's general election, as all six current board members on the ballot were re-elected.

Current Chairwoman Debra Roberts beat out challenger Tom Jett with 61 percent of the vote to 38 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning.

Two board seats were open. Keith Buswell was elected to the 2nd Precinct and Denis Morrill's 9th Precinct seat went to Joel Coleman. Morrill is suing Gov. Gary Herbert because he wasn't selected to run for re-election by a governor-appointed nominating and recruitment committee this spring. Coleman beat out Milton Witt for the spot 59 percent to 40 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Some local boards will have multiple new faces come January. The Jordan School Board will welcome two new members, Corbin White from Precinct 2 and Susan Pulsipher from Precinct 3. Incumbent Randy Brinkerhoff from Precinct 2 did not run for re-election, and incumbent Dale Christensen from Precinct 3 did not make it past the primaries.

Late Tuesday it appeared current Chairwoman Peggy Jo Kennett had secured a fourth term on the board. She's been serving since 1999 and said that should she be elected, she looked forward to working with new board members.

"Every time there is a change in one or two or three board members, the board needs to get used to working with new people," she said. "It's always great to work with new board members."

Kennett said the upcoming term will be especially exciting as Jordan District is in the process of hiring a new superintendent, its first in 14 years. Barry Newbold will retire Jan 1.

"It will be a great experience," Kennett said.

The new Canyons District Board of Education will look familiar, with only one new board member taking office. Steve Wrigley takes the Precinct 5 seat. Incumbent Ellen Wallace did not run for re-election.

School board races aren't the most publicized, but are considered one of the most localized forms of government. Boards can hire and fire a district superintendent and adopt district policy. They approve budgets and can vote to raise property taxes to generate more revenue for their district.

Voters in Utah County's Alpine District opted to keep two current board members and oust two.

A small group of parents disagrees with the district's mission statement including the word "democracy" because the Constitution states the U.S. is a republic. That group endorsed challengers in Precincts 1, 2 and 5 and the incumbent in Precinct 3.

Voters in Alpine chose to keep JoDee Sundberg (Precinct 5) and ousted incumbent Timothy Osborn (Precinct 3) in favor of challenger John Burton. At press time late Tuesday, incumbent Donna Barnes (Precinct 1) led challenger Paula Hill 59 percent to 40, but overnight results boosted Hill's votes. Hill won the election 54 percent to 45 percent. Voters chose challenger Wendy Hart over Chrissy Hannemann for Precinct 2.

e-mail: mfarmer@desnews.com

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