Businessman Kevinn Donovan never thought he’d gather more votes than a sitting School Board member and a former teachers union president, but he did just that in Tuesday’s primary election for Clark County School Board District A.
"It speaks volumes for what the voters want. They’ve wanted change, and they want more of it," said Donovan, director of development contracts for Las Vegas Sands Corp. who moved a step closer to sitting on the board of the nation’s fifth largest school district.
On the topic of broken-down negotiations between the district and teachers union this school year, Donovan found both sides at fault for not "sitting down like grown-ups and figuring things out." Many voters agree, he said.
He won 36 percent of the district’s 20,049 votes in the district, which includes Henderson and part of southeast Las Vegas, and was ahead all Tuesday evening as results trickled in.
The other two candidates slugged it out for the second spot on the November ballot. Donovan will face incumbent and School Board Vice President Deanna Wright, who squeezed by with just 136 more votes than former Clark County Education Association President Mary Ella Holloway.
Wright led by just 0.68 percent. She earned 32 percent of all votes compared to Donovan’s 36 percent despite her incumbent status and reporting $15,807 in campaign contributions. Donovan had $6,225.
Wright knew the primary wouldn’t be an easy win despite two out of three candidates moving forward, but she was surprised to see Donovan at the top.
"Regardless of who made it through, I knew it would be a tough campaign," said Wright, who predicts the teachers union will throw its weight behind her competitor.
That situation isn’t reflected in the other School Board primary in northwest Las Vegas. District E is without an incumbent. John Cole isn’t running for re-election, leaving the seat open to four others.
Attorney Patrice Tew was the top vote-getter in the race, earning 42 percent of the 17,715 votes. Nonprofit financial consultant James Clinton earned the other general election ballot spot with 30 percent of votes.
Clinton has advocated increased efficiency in "using the money we have," but wasn’t against raising the property tax rate to fund school maintenance and renovations. In the November election, the school district is asking voters to raise property taxes by $74.20 annually for homeowners with a residence assessed at $100,000.
Tew said she realizes the district is trying to improve with reduced resources but officials must "come at this differently." She advocated creative approaches, such as getting more parents involved.
"Parent involvement is the No. 1 factor for success," said Tew, who has been active with the PTA.2012 PRIMARY ELECTION
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