Eight years ago, Ila Rose Fife lost a cliff-hanger race for the Salt Lake Board of Education.

But those 40 votes didn't matter Tuesday night. This time she was the winning candidate. The board chose Fife from among six candidates to complete the unexpired term of Steven L. Olsen, who resigned last month because he is moving from the school district's Precinct 3, which roughly covers the old South High area.The board voted unanimously for Fife in a school board meeting that lasted less than five minutes. However, school board members talked for five hours in a closed-door session Monday night before reaching a consensus.

President Stephen G. Boyden said he believes Fife was chosen because she has been very active in the precinct. "She will probably have the greatest support and will be viewed as a leader. She has the ability to represent the views of her precinct."

A controversy swirled around one of the candidates, retired school administrator Robert Archuleta, who acknowledged that he has been active in the Utah Communist Party.

Boyden said Archuleta's politics

were not an issue in the selection process, despite the phone calls that school board members received objecting to his candidacy. The board president called politics a "non-issue" since a seat on the school board is nonpartisan.

Fife said she has no definite agenda for her two-year term. "I just want to learn as much as I can to try and be as good a school-board member as possible."

She said she wants to work at helping reinstate pride and trust in the school board by working closely with her constituents.

A resident of the precinct for 17 years, Fife is a Chapter I reading aide at Parkview Elementary School. She has been active on elementary, junior and senior high school committees and was a member of the High School Boundary Committee.

She and her husband, Fred, an airport engineer, are the parents of five children - two married daughters, Pam Savage and Anegela Bytheway; Fred Fife, a KTVX reporter; Charlotte, an East High senior who is a foreign exchange student in the Philippines; and Katherine, a Glendale Intermediate School student.