Longtime teacher Joe Dealy along with Rick Wells and Erin Gudge will be the newest three members of the Philomath School Board, based on the unofficial final results out of Tuesday’s special election.
Dealy earned the Position 3 seat on the board with a victory over challengers Abigail Kurfman and Brittany Kennedy. Dealy brought in 859 votes, or 44.12%. Kurfman finished second with 590 votes (30.30%) and Kennedy was third with 494 (25.37%).
The elections office released a late-night update that showed all 23 precincts reporting with a voter turnout of 39.2% among the county’s 59,728 registered voters.
“I”m a very calm, level-headed clear thinker and I don’t get highly emotional,” Dealy told the Philomath News on Tuesday night in response to questions about his anticipated victory. “I try to think through problems as calmly as I can. I’ll do fine, I think it’ll be an interesting and a good challenge for me.”
Wells and Gudge were unchallenged for the other two open seats. Wells returns to the School Board with 96.68% of the vote with 3.32% casting write-in votes for the Position 1 seat.
Gudge had a challenger according to the ballot and voters’ pamphlet but Joey McGlinchy announced weeks ago a pending move out of the state and did not want to be considered. The word didn’t get out to several voters, obviously, with Gudge earning 1,057 votes (57.79%) to McGlinchy’s 762 votes (41.66%).
Dealy has spent well over three decades in Philomath as an educator — 31 years as a full-time teacher until his retirement after the 2015-16 academic year and the last five as a substitute teacher.
“It’s all about education, it’s all about supporting the kids, it’s all about supporting the teachers and the administration, working to do the best you can for the community both financially and educationally with what’s appropriate and what’s best for everybody, ” Dealy said. “Obviously, you’ve always got to balance things because there’s only so much money in the pot and there’s so many things that we’d like to do but we can’t always afford everything we want to do.”
Dealy expects post-pandemic challenges in the district.
“Right now coming out of the pandemic, there’s going to be a lot of issues that we’re going to have to address that may not be easy but are going to be necessary,” Dealy said. “It’s something where my experience with the district and knowing the history and knowing what’s gone here for so long, I think I can do a good job of trying to keep things calm and get stuff done hopefully.”
The school district’s Budget Committee is currently in talks with the finance director to prepare for the 2021-22 academic year. Dealy, Wells and Gudge will be sworn in with the arrival of the new fiscal year on July 1.
“A big number of a school board’s responsibility is the budget and dealing with the money that you’ve got that’s coming from the state and you’ve got to balance things out and make priorities,” Dealy said. “I have no agenda going in so it’ll just be what happens and what I feel needs to happen, but I’m also going to go with the experience that’s there, the board members that are already there will help guide me.”
Current board members that will remain include Anton Grube and Karen Skinkis. Outgoing board members are Shelley Niemann, Jim Kildea and Greg Gerding.
Dealy believes good communication will be important for the board to be successful.
“I think one of the problems that the board and the district has occasionally had over the years that I’ve been here is when communication breaks down, when the board members don’t know what’s going on with the schools, the board members don’t know the interactions between the administrators and the teachers,” Dealy said. “You get bad communication or a lack of communication and then decisions are made based on incomplete information and then nobody’s happy.
“I think that’s going to be one of my most important goals initially,” he added, “ just to make sure we have good communication at all levels.”
Other races on the ballot of interest to Philomath voters were all unchallenged. Robyn Jones, Ken Corbin and Doug Edmonds all won seats on the Philomath Fire & Rescue Board of Directors.
Other results on the Philomath ballot included Roger Irvin for Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District Zone 2 director; John Sarna for Linn-Benton Community College Zone 5 director; and the renewal of a levy for public health and safety services passed by a 72% to 28% margin.
Elsewhere in the region, for the Blodgett-Summit Rural Fire Protection District, David King and Jessie Blume will fill two seats on the board but two other seats did not attract any candidates and will rely on write-in votes.
The same situation occurred with the Hoskins-Kings Valley Rural Fire Protection District with Jay Tappen earning one seat and two other positions drawing no candidates.
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