Voters return incumbents to their seats

Voters were standing by the incumbents in the Richland School Board race on Tuesday.

In the race for Position 3, incumbent Rick Donahoe received 5,624 votes, or about 55 percent, over Gordon Comfort's 4,533.

For Position 4, incumbent Mary Guay had 5,218 votes, or nearly 52 percent, while Brian Barth received 4,877 votes.

And Phyllis Strickler, who's held Position 5 for 16 years, received 5,417 votes, or about 53 percent. Her challenger Brett Amidan received 4,769 votes.

Donahoe, who was appointed to the board two years ago, said he wasn't sure how things would turn out for him in his first election.

"I really had no idea," he said. "But I'm glad it's over."

Comfort, the former principal of Richland High School who now is the head of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia, said he's not surprised by Donahoe apparent win.

"He's a good person and he's been here for a long time," he said.

Guay, who first served on the board in the '70s before she was elected again 12 years ago, said she's ready for four more years.

"I'm looking forward to working on the problems," she said.

Barth could not be reached Tuesday.

Strickler saw the vote as a sign that Richland citizens generally are satisfied with the work of the school board.

"That would be my hope, that they like how the district is run," she said.

Amidan said he was "a little shocked" that all three challengers lost. He said he would like to stay involved, perhaps by offering his help to the district before February's levy election.

The success of the incumbents also could mean that voters want people with experience running the district in the tough financial times that lie ahead for Washington schools, Strickler said. The state is considering drastic cuts in the money it sends to districts to deal with a projected budget shortfall.

Her fellow incumbents agreed.

"Richland realizes it's going to be a tough year," Guay said. "The people that have been working on the problems have a better understanding as we move forward."

Donahoe said that Tuesday's results are not nearly as important as the upcoming levy election. Going out and convincing people to approve the tax levy will be his first priority, he said.

"That's much more important for the kids (than this election)," Donahoe said.

Tuesday's results won't be final until the election is certified Nov. 29.