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9:09 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Newcomer joins incumbent on Prescott school board

Prescott Unified School District board candidates Maureen Erickson (incumbent) and Greg Mengarelli congratulate each other after being elected and re-elected to the board Tuesday night at the Palace Saloon in downtown Prescott. (Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier)

Prescott Unified School District board candidates Maureen Erickson (incumbent) and Greg Mengarelli congratulate each other after being elected and re-elected to the board Tuesday night at the Palace Saloon in downtown Prescott. (Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier)

PRESCOTT - In one of only a handful of school board elections, incumbent Maureen Erickson was far ahead in the hotly contested Prescott Unified School District race Tuesday. Newcomer Greg Mengarelli will join her after locking down the second open seat.

Erickson had 34 percent of the votes, with Mengarelli at 25 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

John Lamerson (22 percent) was trailing Mengarelli by 181 votes, with David Stringer - who also was an outspoken critic of the proposed jail tax - a distant fourth (18 percent).

"I appreciate the confidence people are showing in my ability to do what's right for the students in our district," Erickson said.

She and other current board members have recommended the closing of two schools (Washington Traditional and Miller Valley Elementary) in a money-saving move after a school bond failed.

On election night, Erickson said she reluctantly supported the closures, stressing that the public will have the chance to comment during a Nov. 18 meeting at Mile High Middle School.

"We need to figure out what's going to negatively affect the least number of families," said Mengarelli, successful in his first try for public office.

Erickson expects a final vote on the budget and possible closures in early December, which would be prior to Mengarelli taking office in January.

More than 50 candidates have become Yavapai County school district governing board members - without being elected.

Of 33 scheduled elections, all but six were canceled by the Yavapai County Education Service Agency. The elections that were called off had candidates who were running unopposed, so the elections were canceled to save money on printing costs.

The unopposed candidates - as well as winners in Tuesday's elections - will take office in January.

The Yavapai College Board District had two elections, with four total candidates competing for two seats. In District 2, Herald Harrington, the incumbent, was unseated by Deborah McCasland, who took 60 percent of the votes.

Steve Irwin more than doubled incumbent Dale Fitzner's votes for the District 5 board seat.

One of the six remaining school board elections, for two Chino Valley Unified School District board seats, also had candidates - Penny Hubble and Cyndi Thomas - who are running unopposed; a third candidate, Robert Bowen, withdrew too late for this election to be canceled.

Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School had three board positions, and four candidates: Laurie Lozano, Becky O'Banion and Irma Dale Williams were the winners, with Robert Szmanda odd man out.

Camp Verde Unified had two open positions, with three candidates: Kitty McDowell and Tim Roth took the seats, with Michael Martin trailing.

Districts in which elections were cancelled included Ash Fork Unified, Bagdad Unified, Beaver Creek Elementary School, Camp Verde Unified, Canon Elementary School, Congress Elementary School, Cottonwood-Oak Creek Elementary School, Crown King Elementary School, Hillside Elementary School, Humboldt Unified, Kirkland Elementary School, Mayer Unified, Mingus Union, Mountain Institute Unified, Sedona-Oak Creek Joint Unified, Seligman Unified, Skull Valley Elementary School, Valley Academy for Career and Technology, Walnut Grove Elementary School, Williamson Valley Elementary School and Yarnell Elementary School.

Follow Tom Scanlon on Twitter @tomscanlonpress