Voters have welcomed three newcomers to the Cary Elementary District 26 school board race. Christopher Christensen was the top vote-getter with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results Tuesday night. He is followed by Josh Howell, Jennifer Crick and Julie Jette.
A crowded race brought eight candidates -- six newcomers -- to vie for four open seats.
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Incumbents Jette and Floyd Myers sought re-election against Bradley Slavik and two slates of challengers. Christensen and Howell ran together as did Crick, Scott Epstein and Bruce Ritter.
According to the unofficial tally, Christensen had 1,521 votes, Howell had 1,315, Crick had 1,178 and Jette had 1,155 votes. They were followed by Ritter with 901, Epstein with 886, Myers with 851 and Slavik with 516.
Myers attributes his loss to his decision not to run an active campaign with yard signs and heavy public outreach. Christensen and Howell, he said, were especially active. Myers was first elected to the board two years ago.
Christensen said he and Howell are ready to face issues head-on as elected officials
"We are really looking forward to working as a team because really that's the only way this district can move forward," Christensen said.
District 26 is working to phase back in art, music and physical education classes that were cut in 2010 in the midst of a financial crisis that almost included state takeover. Candidates' views varied on how well the district has handled the crisis and where it should go from here.
Christensen and Howell largely think the district has done a good job righting its financial ship and hope to improve relationships among the community, board, administration and teachers.
Crick, Epstein and Ritter were more critical on the campaign trail. They pointed to a need for accountability, especially by the superintendent. They said the board needs to have more concrete plans for future projects and purchases and better engage the community.
Longtime board member Jette said she is proud of the board's work in the last few years, especially in its negotiations with teachers that resulted in money-saving concessions.