Pasco residents showed strong support for School Board President Sherry Lancon on Tuesday night.
Lancon had 4,029 votes, or more than 68 percent of the total, in the first results from the primary election. Challenger Javier Ruiz was a distant second with 1,395 votes, or more than 23 percent, and will face Lancon again in the general election. Challenger Taylor Franklin Taranto was a distant third with 472 votes, or 8 percent.
“I’m happy, I’m just very happy with the results,” Lancon told the Herald.
Lancon, 66, was appointed to the school board in 2007 and won re-election to a full term in 2009. She recently retired from the banking industry and has grandchildren attending Pasco schools.
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The district has grown constantly the last several years and Lancon has been involved with decisions dealing with that, including putting a $48.6 million bond before voters. It was approved in February and will pay for three new elementary schools and other construction projects.
The district has been recognized by the state for good accounting practices during Lancon’s tenure. She and the rest of the board also authorized developing a science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, curriculum for the three new elementary schools in order to better prepare students for future careers.
“I’ve worked very hard and the school board has been successful,” Lancon said.
Ruiz, 41, a father of five, has called for more accountability in the school district but, more importantly, better academic achievement. Students at all levels aren’t being challenged, he said.
“It’s hard to play catch up if you’re behind,” said Ruiz, who is a supervisor with the state Department of Social and Health Services.
Ruiz is excited to move on to the next election, he said, but knows he’ll have to double his efforts and more to defeat Lancon. But he’s up to the challenge and thinks the community wants to listen.
“I think folks are wanting to see some fresh ideas on the board,” he said.
Taranto, 27, a small business owner and community college student, said the election and campaigning was an important lesson for him, as he’d never sought office before.
He’s glad to have raised awareness and has learned how much people in the community care about their schools, he said.
“I have a lot more faith in this community than I did before,” he told the Herald.
The count includes ballots turned in by 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The rest will be counted starting Wednesday.
Franklin County will certify its election Aug. 20.
Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver