Upon review, it's board incumbent

Recount returns Bocanegra to seat for Evergreen schools; similar tallies called sign of fair process

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 
photoJulie Bocanegra, Evergreen Public Schools board member for District 1

Following a hand recount of ballots, incumbent Julie Bocanegra emerged victorious on Friday in her Nov. 5 Evergreen school board race. She bested challenger Daniel Poletti by just 91 votes.

The race, one of many local contests in the 2013 general election, was too close to call on election night. After all the ballots were counted, Bocanegra led Poletti by 90 votes, triggering a mandatory recount under state law.

"I'm excited," Bocanegra said Friday, after hearing the recount results. "I've learned a lot about Clark County elections in the last month. It's definitely a fair process."

The final tally was 9,908 votes for Bocanegra, and 9,817 for Poletti. The results will be certified Tuesday.

Bocanegra is a bank manager and longtime volunteer with the district. During her campaign, she touted the district's ability to pay for all-day kindergarten and the opening of Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School.

This was Bocanegra's first election. She was appointed last year to Evergreen Public Schools, the largest school district in Clark County and the fifth-largest in the state.

Poletti, a payroll accountant with a bachelor's degree in education, campaigned as an advocate for education alternatives. He supported home-school and charter-school options for parents. Poletti did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on Friday.

Clark County elections officials announced Nov. 26 that they'd need to do the recount. On Monday, employees went to work separating out ballots in the Evergreen Public Schools district. The recount began Friday morning.

The 2013 general election included a smorgasbord of local nonpartisan races and advisory votes, but the District 1 Evergreen school board race was the only one in Clark County to require a recount. Recounts are more likely to occur in smaller voter districts, and when there's

a lower voter turnout, Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said last month.

After the need for a recount was announced, Poletti said he contacted Kimsey to concede, in the hopes that the county wouldn't have to spend the money on a recount. He said he did not believe the recount would change the outcome of his race.

Kimsey estimated that it cost $8,000 to hire temporary elections workers to help with the recount, and he said three permanent elections employees put off their regular duties to assist in the recount. State law mandates a recount in races that are fewer than 2,000 votes and less than half a percentage point apart.

Although recounts do cost money, they are an important quality control measure, Kimsey said. The difference between the two election counts was just "one ballot out of 25,805," he noted, adding that he's "very pleased with the process that we used."

There are 76,190 registered voters living in the Evergreen Public Schools district, and 25,805 voted in the race between Bocanegra and Poletti. The overall turnout of registered voters in Clark County for the 2013 general election was 37.62 percent.

The Evergreen school board is made up of five members who each serve four-year terms. They can earn up to $50 a day when conducting board business, and no more than $4,800 annually.