A recount Monday for a Union County school board race upheld the initial outcome, with incumbent Carolyn Lowder losing to challenger Kevin Stewart by 74 votes.
Lowder’s loss means all three school board incumbents who ran for re-election this fall lost.
Lowder, who had served on the board for 18 years, lost in the recount for the District 2 seat. Final recount numbers gave Stewart 5,291 votes and Lowder 5,217 votes, county Board of Elections Director John Whitley said.
He said Lowder picked up a vote or two in some precincts but lost a few elsewhere, with the net result remaining unchanged during the three-hour recount. The county was not required to recount the votes for Chris Randall, who finished third on election night, Whitley said.
“It’s been a long process,” Stewart said. “I’m glad it has reached a conclusion and I look forward to taking my seat on the board Dec. 4 and getting to work.”
Also out were incumbents David Scholl and Laura Minsk, who lost their at-large seats to Christina B. Helms and Mike Guzman.
The losses come in a year when school district and school board leaders fell under intense community criticism for initially deciding to cut all 350 teacher-assistant jobs to help close a deficit in the district’s budget.
Those positions eventually were restored after county commissioners agreed to one-time funding to help cover the costs, and the district later returned that money when fewer assistants than anticipated returned.
“I think the teacher assistants debacle was a big part” of all the incumbents losing, Stewart said, along with a belief by some in the community that the board was not responsive to people’s concerns and needed more transparency.
Lowder said Monday that she wanted to congratulate Stewart, and wished him and the new board well. The retired high school science teacher from the Wingate area served as chair of the school board from 1994 to 2002.
On election night, Stewart, a Wingate-area resident and project manager with J.O. Flowe Grading Co., had 42.63 percent; Lowder had 42 percent. When the county certified the results on Nov. 16, Stewart held a 74-vote lead.
Whitley said no recounts had resulted in overturning election-night results in his five years with the county Board of Elections.
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