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McGrath wins re-election. By accident. After withdrawing from race

Winners’ strategy: Don’t campaign

Posted: November 4, 2009 9:49 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
The only incumbent in the Newhall School District board race led Tuesday’s election, carrying more than 2,000, or 22 percent, of the votes to his second term.

Just one problem: He wasn’t running.

In September, incumbent Michael McGrath, the current board president, said he was dropping out of the race, citing family circumstances.

His re-election has led the Newhall School District to begin an appointment process, the first for the district in more than a decade, to replace McGrath’s spot when he resigns.

McGrath said Tuesday that being an incumbent and having that name recognition most likely led to his win, despite his withdrawal from the race.

While McGrath said he was flattered by the win and strong numbers, he hoped supporters didn’t feel like they threw away their vote because he was out of the race.

As McGrath finishes his first term, board members chose to go through an appointment process rather than a costly special election, Superintendent Marc Winger said.

Current board members Suzan Solomon, Bob Jensen, Mike Shapiro and Steve Tannehill will lead the interview and appointment process, Winger said. McGrath will not be part of the process.

Tannehill said the existing board has the most experience and ability to appoint a new board member.

“I look for people who are passionate about public education,” he said.

Applications for the soon-to-be open seat are due at noon Nov. 20, Winger said. The district has already received application requests from three people, Winger said Wednesday.

The interviews will be held in public session Dec. 1 and a decision will be made during that meeting, Winger said.

The appointed board member, who will serve a two-year term, will then be seated Dec. 8 with Phil Ellis and Christy Smith, who won Tuesday’s election, beating out Craig Duswalt and Scott Miller.

During a Tuesday night victory party, Ellis credited his win to his experience as he previously served as a Newhall School District board member in the 90s before moving on to the William S. Hart Union High School District board.

Smith, who previously ran for Newhall School District, said the name recognition and her dedication to serving the district benefited her in the race.

Smith is ready to take on her new role, especially as state budget cuts to education deepen.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work,” she said.


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