There will be at least one new member of the Richland School Board after the November general election, but former Richland High Principal Gordon Comfort is looking to unseat incumbent Phyllis Strickler and make that two new members.
Strickler, the board president, had 2,402 votes, or 40.59 percent, for Position 5 on the board, according to initial results from the Benton County Auditor’s Office.
Comfort wasn’t far behind with 2,123, or 35.88 percent. Challenger Donald Todd received 1,392, or 23.53 percent.
Brett Amidan was the lead for Position 4 on the board, currently held by Mary Guay. He had 2,493 votes, or 42.91 percent.
Jill Oldson was in second with 1,972 votes, or 33.94 percent. Challenger Emily Allen came in third with 1,345 votes, or 23.15 percent.
The auditor’s office had counted 12,639 ballots as of the first results posted Tuesday evening. About 3,000 ballots were left to be counted, and the next set of results is expected around 4 p.m. Aug. 5.
Strickler, who’s been on the board for 20 years, said she was pleased with the voters’ support. Amidan, who ran for the board four years ago, said he’d hoped his past experience running and better organization would give him an edge.
“I’m glad the primary is over and am looking forward to the general,” Strickler said.
None of the challengers running for either position were critical of the current board in their comments Tuesday night. Comfort said he would seek to move the district even further ahead of the success Strickler and her fellow board members have nurtured.
This was Todd’s first go at seeking elected office. While disappointed, he said he learned a lot in the process. He wished Strickler and Comfort well in their campaigns.
In the Position 4 race, Amidan said he would be the only West Richland resident on the board if his bid is successful, providing a new perspective. He also cited his work as a statistician as being of benefit to the board.
“I’ve got an analytical mind and I think the district could use that,” he said.
Oldson said she felt pretty good about her place in the primary considering it was the first time she’d run for office. She’s called for more effort to further level the playing field between the district’s wealthier and poorer schools.
“Regardless of the outcome (of the election), I will still continue doing work within the district,” she said.
Oldson, Amidan, Allen and Todd said one of the things they most want to see change on the board is having more parents with students currently in school on the board. As Amidan and Oldson both currently have children in Richland schools, they’re happy to see that change coming.
“I’m pleased that regardless who wins, there will be a parent on the board,” Allen said of her race.