PHOENIX — At least one race remained too close to call Tuesday night, but it appeared two incumbents will return to the Phoenix-Talent School Board and be joined by two new members.
Incumbent Craig Prewitt was comfortably leading while incumbent Marina Piacentini was ahead by 78 votes in results released at 9:21 p.m. It appeared they will be joined on the board by new members Debra McAlister, who was leading incumbent Nathan Shinn by more than 200 votes, and Ruth Staten, who was comfortably ahead in her race against two opponents.
In the tightest race, challenger Dawn Watson was leading incumbent Laura Lotspeich by 33 votes, 1,043 to 1,010, in a 9:21 p.m. tally.
Zone 1 covers the Talent area. Zone 2 includes the Phoenix area and portions of the district in south Medford.
Ruth Staten captured the only seat not contested by an incumbent, Position 1 in Zone 2. David Garcia had resigned from the position in March. Staten had 1,143 votes, while Greg Frownfelter tallied 725 and Aaron Waldron 224.
"I'm very excited. It's so exciting to start a new position," said Staten. "I couldn't have done it without a lot of friends and a lot of teachers."
Staten said she thought her efforts at circulating fliers in neighborhoods pushed her to the top.
"I'm going to take the first couple of meetings to just get my bearings on what's going on," said Staten.
Incumbent Piacentini was leading Joseph DeLuca 789 to 701 votes for Position 3 in Zone 1. She believed that margin would be enough for her to retain the seat.
"I'm very happy to be able to continue," said Piacentini. "We still have work to do in light of all the difficulties we have faced, but everyone is doing a really good job."
Incumbent Laura Lotspeich led narrowly in an 8 p.m. count, but by 9:21 p.m. was trailing challenger Dawn Watson 1,043 to 1,010. They were contesting the two years remaining on the Position 5, Zone 1 term of the late Loretta Nordquist. Lotspeich had been appointed to fill the seat until the election.
"I think with 33 votes it's too early to declare," said Watson. "I think it's too close too soon. I'm pleased that I've got the votes I've got."
Shinn, who had a total of 13 years on the board, appeared headed for defeat in Position 6, Zone 2, with McAlister leading him 865 to 659.
"I'm excited. I'm a retired teacher so I'd like to be proactive, especially with my children's education," said McAlister. "I think I have positive input."
McAlister said she would like to hire more teachers and reduce administration. She'd also like to see more certified staff members hired to coach sports.
"I think we have good academic programs, but I think sports programs can be strengthened," said McAlister.
A veteran of 21 years on the board and its current chairman, Craig Prewitt won re-election to Position 7 in Zone 2. Prewitt was leading Maria Thompson 1,329 to 738.
"I'm happy so far," said Prewitt.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.