When the dust settled and unofficial votes had been counted Wednesday, May 17, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District finally began to get a sense of who will round out its five member school board.
Unofficial returns show Regan Molatore (Position 1), Dylan Hydes (Position 3) and Ginger Fitch (Position 5) in the lead for election to the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board. If results hold, the trio will serve four-year terms, joining Chelsea Martin and Betty Reynolds, who both have two years left on the board.
With Molatore, Grady Nelson and Maust running as one slate, and Mike Taylor, Hydes and Fitch running as a separate slate, Tuesday's results proved to be a mixed bag of the two parties. As the only incumbent, Molatore's group represented for some the status quo while Taylor, Hydes and Fitch were seen by others as newcomers with fresh ideas.
With 6,132 ballots counted, Molatore earned 3,946 votes for Position 1 (64.35 percent) compared to 2,186 votes (35.65 percent) for Taylor.
Molatore, a former attorney now working in the construction industry, will serve her second term on the WL-WV School Board. The Wilsonville native built her campaign on the successes of the school district during her first term, pointing to graduation rates and high state test scores in particular.
"I'm looking forward to supporting administration, teachers and our students in continuing achievement and good work," Molatore said. "I look forward to working with my fellow board members."
Running with the slogan "Make our schools excellent," her opponent, Taylor, questioned the status quo of the current board throughout his campaign. A retired IT director Taylor said, "Running for school board gave me a forum to put out some out of box ideas for the next board to maybe review and potentially take action on. I'm thrilled for Ginger and Dylan."
In Position 3, Hydes leads with 55.31 percent of votes (3,359) compared to 44.69 percent (2,714) percent for Nelson as of Wednesday morning.
A former middle school social studies teacher with a master's in teaching from the University of Oregon, Hydes brought a background in education to the school board race. Now an attorney, he wants to increase district transparency and promote public input.
"I came in with no expectations. I know that both sides have run strong, positive campaigns, and I didn't know if I was going to win by 10 or lose by 10," he said.
"I plan to come in on day one and bring some openness to the board, implement better notice for meetings, better meeting minutes and work hard to bring the communities in for important decisions. I plan to become a student early on because there is going to be a steep learning curve and it's a really big responsibility."
Nelson, a retired police officer and current real estate broker, is a former PTA president. He said during his campaign that he wanted to see the school district through what will be a challenging financial time, and that he wanted to improve the district's safety and security.
"Disappointed in the results, but I got into this for the kids and community," Nelson said. "As far as the campaign, it was a great campaign. I wish Dylan well and hope that he listens to the community and takes in all perspectives.
"The nice thing is I continue with Long Range Planning Committee and Bond Oversight Committee. We have challenges ahead and I look forward to taking them on and working toward the next goals of our school district."
Position 5 results that were updated as of Wednesday morning, meanwhile, has Fitch with 54.73 percent of votes (3,321) compared to 45.27 (2,747) percent for Maust.
Fitch, an attorney and longtime Wilsonville resident, has spent the better part of her career advocating for children through her role as general counsel for the state's Child Welfare division.
"Regardless of who wins we've changed the conversation to include some real important questions regarding decisions we're making in the district," Fitch said after early returns.
Maust brought a background in banking and finance to the table, as well as ample board experience. The co-CEO of Lewis and Clark Bank, Maust is currently chair of the district's Budget Committee. He said during his campaign that he wanted to increase transparency, improve the budget process and increasing vocational programs.
"I'm disappointed by results, but I'm pleased to continue to serve district through role as budget member," Maust said. "I really appreciate going through the full campaign process and liked that it was a competitive race, because it enabled me to get out into the community to really think about the key issues that the district is facing, what's on the minds of the citizens in the district, and how we can bring the two together to provide the best educational experience we can for the children in West Linn and Wilsonville. I'd like to take that perspective, continue to build on it in next two years and consider a run in 2019."