WENATCHEE — It was a split election for incumbent Wenatchee School Board members on Tuesday night.
Wenatchee School Board president Sunny Hemphill lost with 35.35% percent of the vote (1,820 votes) to challenger Martin Barron with 64.65% (3,328 votes). While Laura Jaecks will retain her seat with 61.48% of the vote (3,247) to Meliesa Tigard's 38.52 percent (2,034).
School Board Position 2 Member Karina Vega-Villa only received 43.77% of the vote (2,204 votes) to Tim Larson's 56.23% (2,831 votes). But Larson dropped out of the race in August after his family moved to Cashmere.
Chelan County Auditor Skip Moore said if Larson maintains the lead in the count, he is not eligible to serve on the board since he no longer lives in the district, but election rules did not allow the county to remove his name from the ballot. The school board seat will be vacant starting Jan. 1, and the school board will appoint someone to fill the seat through 2021, he said.
Barron said he was humbled by the amount of confidence that voters showed him. He plans to work hard to earn their support.
"So I’ve got to do something about it, but remembering you are one person in five," Barron said. "You work as a team. I’m very honored."
Barron said he ran for a seat on the board because he brought teamwork skills to the table and wanted to build trust and goodwill to the board.
Barron is a former businessman and believes the board needs to approach its looming budget problems with a problem-solving mindset.
Hemphill congratulated Barron on his victory and said he would do a wonderful job in the position.
"It has been a really great two years," Hemphill said. "I have enjoyed being on the board and I’m really glad that we are able to bring Dr. Paul Gordon to Wenatchee and I’m just looking forward to seeing the Wenatchee School District grow stronger and better every year."
Jaeck says she felt grateful for voters choosing to reelect her and is ready to get back to work.
"Thank you for instilling your trust and confidence in me and I will continue to do you proud," she said.
Jaecks ran for re-election arguing her tenured experience and career skills would be a valuable asset. She also believes that the school district needs to be student-centered and the focus has to be on attracting highly qualified teachers to the district. She also believes that the school district needs to be student-centered and the focus has to be on attracting highly qualified teachers to the district.
To do so, the district needs to maintain a positive and professional work climate that offers professional development and fair compensation, Jaecks said.
The second round of ballots will be counted Friday and final results will be certified on Nov. 26 for the two counties.