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For incumbents, school board race was satisfying

February 14, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - For incumbents like Wayne D. Ridenour and Donna Brightman, Tuesday's primary election results were satisfying.

They believe voters are pleased with their work on the Washington County Board of Education and want to keep them on the job, they said. Ridenour was the top vote-getter (11,826 votes) and Brightman was a close second (11,078).

For a political newcomer like Justin M. Hartings, receiving 5,395 votes and moving on to November's general election is "encouraging," he said.

"I was a complete unknown," Hartings said.

He was among a field of nine candidates that included two incumbents and three former board members - all of who will advance to the general election.

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The eight candidates who will move on to November's general election are Brightman, Jacqueline B. Fischer, W. Edward Forrest, Meredith Fouche, Hartings, Margaret Lowery, Ridenour and Russell F. Williams II, according to complete but unofficial results.

Williams, a former board member, said it might be his name that kept him near the end of the pack. Williams said that all of the top vote-getters in Tuesday's election, with the exception of Ridenour, had last names found toward the beginning of the alphabet.

His campaign treasurer, Louise Wolfe, said she will petition that names on ballots in the general election be listed randomly, instead of in alphabetical order.

Williams, who received 5,346 votes had only 896 more votes than Tom Janus. Janus appeared to have lost Tuesday, but there are 1,206 absentee ballots to be counted.

Janus said Wednesday that he has no plans to wage a write-in campaign for a seat on the Washington County Board of Education as he has in the past.

He ran for a seat in 2004 and 2006, but did not make it through either primary election. He ran as a write-in candidate in the 2004 election, but was unsuccessful.

Fouche thanked those who voted for him and said he was encouraged by the results.

"The four people who finished ahead of me are either incumbents or have been school board members," he said. "And there's a lot of energy left in me."

Fouche finished fifth with 6,656 votes.

Fischer had the fourth-highest number of votes with 7,453. She said she plans to get her message to voters before November's general election.

Forrest, who had the third-highest number of votes with 10,154, said he was pleased with the results and grateful to those who supported him.

He served on the Board of Education from 2000-07 and resigned from the board in March 2007.

"The outcome at the end of the day is good for the school system," he said, referring to the field of candidates running for a seat on the board.

Ridenour has served on the board since 2004 and said he is looking forward to another four-year term.

"I'm looking forward to an opportunity to continue to serve kids and continue to serve the community as a board member," he said. "I take it seriously, and I appreciate the support I've gotten so far."

Brightman, who was appointed to fill Forrest's seat on the board about eight months ago, said she saw Tuesday's primary election as an evaluation of those eight months.

Receiving the second-highest number of votes was gratifying, she said.

"I feel like I need to go out and earn every vote," she said. "I have nine months, and I'm going to be ... meeting with people. I want to hear what they think education should look like in Washington County and what their expectations are for their children."

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