Three newcomers and one former board member appeared late Tuesday to have a firm grasp on their respective seats on the Medford School Board.
As of 11:11 p.m., results showed longtime educator Jeff Kinsella, Erickson Inc. project manager Suzanne Messer, former board member Cynthia Wright, and retired Hewlett-Packard executive Jim Horner leading their opponents.
Kinsella had 5,103 votes, or 58.19 percent of the ballots cast, to perennial candidate and certified public accountant Curt Ankerberg’s 3,638 votes, 41.49 percent.
Kinsella, 68, taught for nearly 30 years, including two years at McLoughlin Middle School and 19 at Jackson Elementary School, before retiring last year. Since then, he’s continued to volunteer at Jackson and on the district’s Budget Committee and is now eager to serve as a board member.
“It feels great that I won,” Kinsella said, shortly after the early returns had been published. “I’m relieved and happy that I can get down to business. I want to continue with the Pathways plan, broaden that and bring it down into the middle schools; set up some kind of program that helps parents get their children ready for kindergarten; and help other schools get a P-3 grant like Jackson.”
Messer said she was surprised and humbled to have the edge over incumbent Jeff Thomas. As of late Tuesday, Messer had 4,205 votes (48.33 percent) to Thomas’ 3,599 votes (41.36 percent). Norma McMahan trailed Messer and Thomas with 865 votes, or 9.94 percent.
“I’m kind of excited because it’s a new chapter, and I get to work with the current School Board members, the current superintendent, Dr. Shumate, and the teachers on setting policies and procedures that are right for our students,” Messer said. “Their education and preparedness after high school is vitally important to me.”
Messer, 48, said she hopes to see more teamwork all around and more students pursuing their individual interests and a college degree or industry certification while in high school. She is a senior inventory project manager for Erickson Inc. and the mother of four children, including three Medford students and one Medford graduate.
In the race for Position 3, Wright was leading Head Start volunteer Casey Stine by 1,311 votes. Wright had 4,891 votes, or 57.44 percent, to Stine's 3,580 votes, or 42.04 percent.
A former member of the Medford School Board, Wright, 53, recently returned from a three-year mission in Chile and is now eager to serve in her community again. She volunteers with the Children’s Advocacy Center and facilitates community training for protecting children against child sexual abuse.
All six of Wright’s children graduated from Medford schools.
During her forthcoming term on the board, Wright said she would like to add more instructional days to the calendar year, increase student achievement across all grade levels and improve the graduation rate by helping students from varied economic backgrounds meet standards.
“If we can do all that, I’ll be thrilled,” she said.
“Being on the school board is a great opportunity to learn,” she said. “I learned a lot last time (2003-2007), and this time, I hope the learning curve won’t be so big and I can hit the ground running.”
Horner, with 3,229 votes (37.29 percent), appeared to be headed for a victory over retired teacher and former board member Sally Killen's 2,433 votes (28.09 percent) and local small-business owner Kevin Husted with 2,972 votes (34.32 percent).
“I’m very honored by the voters,” Horner said.
“Assuming I won, I think the district is on a positive trajectory, and I look forward to working with the other board members to keep that positive momentum going,” he added.
Horner, 73, is a Stanford University graduate and retired Hewlett-Packard, now HP Inc., executive. In recent years, he’s served on the district’s Budget Committee and on the Save Ruch School Committee.
Horner believes there should be more technology in the classrooms, teachers should receive more support from the community and support staff, and students should have more options available to them online.