"Who is that stranger striding in from the Westside of the
district? Can we trust him with our precious children?"
Tom Egan's opening lines from candidate forums were receiving a
narrow, though still stunning "yes" Tuesday night as he led incumbent
Wendy Leece 52% to 48% with 92 of 178 precincts reporting.
Egan's slight lead, which he maintained from early in the night,
was all the more significant given he was the only school board
challenger poised to beat an incumbent.
Egan's victory would represent a blow to the most conservative and
independent voice on the school board.
"I'm pleased that I'm ahead, but it's just the partial results,"
Egan said modestly, as he shuttled between two parties Tuesday night.
"I don't want to get too excited, but I'm reminded of Egan's first
law. If the salad is good, then the rest of the dinner is good."
Although Leece took comfort in being behind by only a slim margin,
she was hunkered down for many more hours of nail-biting.
"It's going to be a long night and it's probably going to be
pretty close," said Leece, at home with family, friends and
supporters. "We've got a long way to go."
In the board's other two races, both Judy Franco and Serene Stokes
handily beat their challengers. With more than half of the precincts
reporting, Franco had received 72% of the vote and Stokes had
received 70%. Stokes' victory was sweeter since she beat two
challengers -- Ed Loyd and Ron Winship.
"I'm really excited about it," said Stokes, who was celebrating at
home with family, friends and supporters. "We really worked hard. I'm
just delighted. I felt like I had a lot to offer the district."
The district also looked like it was a victor in its quest to
procure matching funds for its facilities improvement program as
Proposition 47, the state public education facilities bond act, was
ahead 56% to 44% statewide with slightly more than one-third of the
"I am very excited about that because it means that the plans for
Measure A will be able to be carried forward," said Patti
Christiansen, Harbor Council PTA president. "But the election is not
completely won yet, because we have another election in March 2004
....But I'm hopeful for our district."
The Coast Community College District also seemed poised to emerge
victorious with 66% of district residents supporting a $370-million
bond to upgrade facilities at all three community colleges, with
about one-third of precincts reporting.
* DEIRDRE NEWMAN covers education. She may be reached at (949)
574-4221 or by e-mail at email@example.com.