Narrow school board race emerges in Tuesday’s primary vote

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WENATCHEE — Contested school board races throughout the Wenatchee Valley led to a narrow outcome for one Wenatchee School District post as the first round of primary ballots were tabulated Tuesday night.

With about 13,000 ballots cast in races across Chelan County, more than 2,800 ballots remained to be counted in the next tally on Friday, leaving room for movement in several elections. The top two vote-getters in each race advance to November’s general election.

On the Wenatchee School Board, incumbent Position 4 member Michele Sandberg was narrowly outpolled Tuesday by challenger Katherine Thomas, with just over 31 percent of the initial ballots to Thomas’s 32 percent. Two other challengers, Jennifer Brandt and Joel A. Martin, collected 27 percent and 8 percent respectively. Sandberg is just finishing her first four-year term.

Position 5 incumbent Julie Norton ended the night in a stronger position with 45 percent, compared to her nearest contender Miranda Skalisky, who earned 30 percent. Arlette Lopez Rodriguez collected just over 23 percent. Norton was appointed to the school board in January 2020 and must run to retain her seat.

Norton’s fellow incumbent Maria Iñiguez, also appointed last year, had a strong initial showing at 45 percent against challengers Matt Van Bogart, with 33 percent, and Tina Irvine, 20.8 percent.

Two Eastmont School Board seats were in play Tuesday. Jason Heinz will run against 15-year Position 3 incumbent Annette Eggers in November after scoring 62 percent of the initial primary vote. One other challenger, Rama Mohr, withdrew from the race but not in time to be removed from the ballot.

John “Stew” Steward Jr. and Joy Dawe closely split the votes for an at-large school board seat, 43 percent to 41 percent. That seat has been held by Dave Piepel, who also announced his withdrawal after the campaign filing period, but still drew 12.1 percent of the vote.

Voting opened July 16, and Chelan County saw about 22.9 percent turnout of registered voters. Douglas County clocked 17.8 percent turnout.