Superintendent's supporters lead in Medford

Even with a low 17 percent voter turnout, results from today's regular district election may have a huge impact on the future employment of Medford School District Superintendent Phil Long.

Before the election, the seven school board members were closely divided, with four approving Long's performance and three critical of his leadership, management and ability to take direction from the board.

Renewing his contract, which ends June 2014 barring a change, or hiring a new superintendent has been left up to the new board. Three incumbents were up for re-election.

Position 1 incumbent Paulie Brading has been critical of student performance under Long's eight-year tenure and his refusal to cut $300,000 from the support services operating budget.

As of press time, she was losing to Larry Nicholson, an insurance agent and cattle ranch owner who served on the board for eight years starting in 2003, including as chairman.

Nicholson had 3,119 votes, or 45.52 percent of the ballots counted. Brading had 2,572 votes, representing 37.54 percent. Challenger Nikki Milam, a parent and office secretary, had 1,143 votes, or 16.68 percent.

Position 2 incumbent Jeff Thomas, the general manager of Connecting Point who supported Long in recent discussions, won against Lisa McGowan, a mother and advocate for special needs children who said she has long had a desire to get involved in education.

Thomas, who is currently the board chairman, had 4,339 votes, representing 65.17 percent. Challenger McGowan had 2,299 votes, representing 34.53 percent.

Position 3 incumbent Tricia Prendergast, who has been on the board since 2001 and who ranked Long as proficient or higher in nearly every category in February evaluations, was ahead of close challenger Matt Gebhardt, an endodontist with four children.

At press time, Prendergast had 2,124 votes, or 30.08 percent, to Gebhardt's 2,034, or 28.81 percent, in the four-candidate race.

Challengers Curt Ankerberg, a certified public accountant, had 1,607 votes, or 22.76 percent, and Cheryl Dykes, who worked for the school district for 25 years, had 1,284 votes, or 18.18 percent.

— Janet Eastman

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