Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

TOP STORY >>School patrons choose winners

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District Zone 6 challenger Bill Vasquez beat incumbent Dr. James Bolden, III, by nearly 100 votes in Tuesday’s school elections.

With 100 percent of the precincts in, Vasquez had collected 427 votes to Bolden’s 328.

“We are extremely jubilant,” Vasquez said. “We ran a grassroots campaign and focused on putting children first. We will now do whatever it takes to put the children first,” he said after hearing that he had won the school board seat.

But the PCSSD election did not run smoothly.

At least 60 people were turned away from the Jacksonville Community Center Tuesday as they attempted to vote for either Bolden or Vasquez to represent Jacksonville area schools for the next four years.

One voter had the chief judge at the Jacksonville polling site call Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien’s office after he, a long-time Zone 6 voter, was told the only ballot he could vote was for Mildred Tatum in Zone 1 in Little Rock.

O’Brien’s office ran the Jacksonville resident’s information through the commission’s computer and found that he was indeed eligible to vote Zone 6.

“They (O’Brien’s office) admitted they made a blunder with their mapping and will have to fix it,” the voter said.

Vasquez said he had received a number of calls from parents who tried to vote, but were turned away. He said most of the problem had to do with the boundaries of the Jacksonville zone, which has a gap in the center of the city.

“These parents send their children to Zone 6 schools, so they thought they were in that zone, but the way the zone is cut, they weren’t,” Vasquez said.

In the Cabot School Board election, incumbent Jim Coy retained his Position 3 seat by a landslide.

Coy received 183 votes against opponent Arthur Evans’ 44 votes.

“I’m very excited to be re-elected and serve another five years,” Coy said. “I appreciate the confidence of the voters in re-electing me and look forward to driving some more changes within Cabot schools.”

Ken Kincade, who was unopposed, also won in Cabot, receiving 204 votes.

Incumbent Richard Pennington was re-elected to the Zone 3, Position 2 seat on the Lonoke School Board, beating Darrell Park by a mere two votes.

Pennington received 44 votes against Park’s 42 votes to represent Lonoke schools for the next five years.

Pennington hopes to expand Lonoke’s vocational programs, decrease the number of students who require remediation in college, and improve facilities at the high school.

Incumbent Ray Kelleybrew, who was unopposed, also retained his Lonoke seat, receiving 20 votes.

On the Beebe School Board, Brenda K. McKown claimed the open five-year seat against Christopher Mark Goss.

McKown, the former president of the McRae School Board, garnered a total of 270 votes against Goss’ 161 votes.

She intends to use her past board experience, along with her knowledge of the educational process, to continue to push for higher education for the Beebe district. She also wants to continue improving the district to ensure a better education system for all students in the Beebe school system.

Leader staff writer Rick Kron contributed to this article.