Prosser School Board president loses election

PROSSER -- Longtime incumbent Prosser School Board member Kay Brader was defeated by challenger Travis Davis, while another incumbent was returned to the board.

Board President Brader garnered 635 votes, or 32 percent, to Davis' 1,373 votes, or 68 percent.

Meanwhile, four-year incumbent Tim Rankin defeated Bill Jenkin to keep his board seat. And in a third school board race, Gayle Wheeler beat Robert "RJ" Blahut. Wheeler will replace Bill Starkey, who did not seek re-election.

A lifelong Prosser resident and cattle rancher, Wheeler garnered 66 percent, or 1,314 votes, to Blahut's 34 percent, or 679 votes, according to unofficial results in Benton and Klickitat counties, which both include parts of the Prosser School District.

Brader, Rankin and Wheeler could not immediately be reached for comment late Tuesday.

During the campaign, Wheeler said she wanted to focus alternatives to building a new high school. The district tried and failed twice this year to pass a $41.3 million, 20-year bond to replace the aging and overcrowded building.

Blahut, owner of Westwind Aviation Services, says the board has a tough job ahead, with drastic budget cuts expected to come from the Legislature.

"I hope that Gayle is going to be up to the task in helping the board convince the Legislature that (those cuts are) not going to be good for the education system in this state," he said.

Incumbent Rankin, an orthopedic surgeon, took 52 percent, or 1,023 votes, to Jenkin's 48 percent, or 941 votes. During the campaign he said his biggest concern is the governor's proposal to cut at least part of levy equalization, which makes a huge difference in Prosser schools.

Jenkin, a financial adviser and winery owner, said he wanted to improve school board relations with the wider community. He's disappointed he lost, but says he'll still work to bring the community closer to the school district.

Davis is a small-business owner, which he said would help him in looking at budget cuts.

"I'm excited for the new challenge, and I'm looking forward to all the hard work," he said Tuesday.