Leader Blues

Saturday, September 30, 2006

TOP STORY>>Wood, Hipp win school nailbiter

IN SHORT: Boards are decided, one run-off will happen in Lonoke Oct. 10.

Leader staff writer

Charlie Wood was declared the winner Friday with two votes to spare over incumbent Ronnie Calva in the race for the Pulaski County Special School District Board after Wood picked up an absentee vote.

He’d been leading Calva with one vote after the Sept. 19 school elections.

Cabot School Board President David Hipp has been declared the winner of the four-candidate race that he led by 49.8 percent of the votes, just shy of a majority he needed to avoid a run-off next month.

Hipp seemed to fall short of winning by two votes. But the five votes for as many write-in candidates were thrown out after the election commission decided that the write-in candidates had not followed proper procedure to be counted, so Hipp did gain the majority after all and he does not have to go into the runoff. Jean McCanliss, a member of the Lonoke County Election Commission, said no one was even sure the five people who wrote names in used the names of real people. But one thing was clear, there were no real write-in candidates.

After those ballots were discounted, all that was left before declaring Hipp the winner was to wait out the clock on the overseas ballots. Hipp said five were out, but none came in.

Hipp received 291 votes to Ken Kincade’s 222. Also running for that seat were Joyce Bender who received 46 votes and Arthur Evans with 20 votes.

There were also five write-in votes.

Hipp is now starting his second, five-year term on the board.

He said Friday, just hours after learning that he had won, that he ran because he wanted to see through to completion projects he was involved in starting.

“There’s so much growth that we’ve got to keep building and then there’s the matter of finding the money to do it. You get caught up in it,” he said.

In the Pulaski County Special School District race, challenger Wood got 50.1 percent of the vote, unseating Calva, who was appointed last year to fill the unexpired term of Don Baker.

When votes were first counted after the Sept. 19 election, Calva and his opponent Charlie Wood, also from Sherwood, finished in a literal dead heat: 260 votes for Woods and 259 for Calva, a difference of just two-tenths of a percent.

Friday afternoon the election commission verified the vote totals from the Sept. 19 election and added in the overseas ballots, giving Wood the edge by one vote, 261 to Calva’s 260.

Before the election, Wood told the Leader that he was not satisfied with the way the PCSSD system was being run and that prompted him to run for school board.

“I believe the control of the local school system has been taken out of our hands,” Wood said. “I’ve talked before the board and I could look in their eyes and see they weren’t listening,” Wood told the Leader. “They gave me my turn because they knew they had to, but it went in one ear and out the other,” Wood added.

Wood is for a process where the people in Sherwood have a significant say in the way Sylvan Hills’ schools are run.
“Change the process and do whatever we can to take the control out from the bureaucrats and put it back into the parents and local community,” Wood said.

The Lonoke School Board’s Zone 3, Position 6 position will be filled with a run-off election Tuesday, Oct. 10 between Cindy Burns and Darrell Park.

In the Sept. 19 election, Burns got 66 vote to Park’s 65.

Early voting for the Lonoke school board run-off starts 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Tuesday, Oct. 10 at the Lonoke County Courthouse. Polls will open 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 10. The polls will be closed on Monday, Oct. 9 due to Columbus Day.

Fred Campbell ran unopposed for Cabot School Board’s Position 6 seat.