With all 16 precincts reporting, but some absentee ballots remaining to be counted, it appears that only one candidate on a slate backed by incumbent board members Mary Rose Mangia, Rachel Marrello and Randy Brockway was elected to the Riverside Elementary School District 96 school board in an election marked by extremely low voter turnout, 19.59 percent.
In a one-on-one race for a two-year term on the school board, Jeffrey Miller won a convincing victory over Robert McCormack, a member of the slate, with Miller winning 55.83 percent of the vote (1,001 votes) to McCormack’s 44.17 percent of the vote (792 votes)
The five-person race for three four-year terms was a tight battle among the top four candidates.
The Central School Parent Teacher Organization’s co-president, Lynda Murphy, led the field with 1,100 votes, according to unofficial results Tuesday night.
Rich Regan, an incumbent who was appointed to the board in September and member of the slate backed by Mangia, Marrello, and Brockway, finished in second place with 1,093 votes, just seven votes behind Murphy.
The race for the third and final spot on the board was incredibly close, but unofficial results put Shari Klyber a mere 24 votes ahead of Juliet Boyd, an incumbent who was also appointed to the school board last September.
Dan Hunt, a member of the slate, brought up the rear with 717 votes.
Miller said that he thought the voters delivered a message despite the close race for the four-year terms.
“I’m very pleased with how things have turned out,” Miller said on election night. “I think it was a very closely contested election, and I think all of the candidates that were running were clearly qualified. But there were clear differences in approach, and I’m very to see how it looks like things have turned out.”
Miller said the candidates not on the slate appear to have benefited from dissatisfaction with the current school board.
“There was a general sense of one side that the current board was maybe not moving in the right direction and that we needed to change direction,” Miller said. “I think that was the kind of the overriding message of the election.”
Murphy was pleased by her apparent win.
“I’m really excited to serve my community,” Murphy said. “I’m glad that people came out and supported me, and I’m excited to start and bring our district back to where it should be.”
Strategic voting seems to have played a large role in the success of and most notably in the apparent narrow defeat of Boyd. A number of voters who spoke to the Landmark said they only voted for Miller, Murphy and Klyber, leaving one spot blank. They did not want to cast a vote for someone who might edge out their top two choices in the four-year term race, a strategy that may have hurt Boyd.
Boyd did not immediately return a phone call asking for comment.
Murphy and Klyber had applied for the vacancies that were filled last fall by Regan and Boyd but were not interviewed by the school board.
The results could possibly change after all absentee ballots are counted in the next few days.