Cefalu to join school board next month
November 13, 2009
When the Lake Tahoe Unified School District board meets next month, there will a new face at the table. Board newcomer Judy Cefalu narrowly unseated incumbent Duane Wallace by five votes in the Nov. 3 election.
“It’s up to me to have shaken six more hands,” Wallace said. “I just want to say congratulations to Judy Cefalu. I know she’s going to find it as interesting and challenging as I did.”
Wallace was appointed to the school board in June to replace member Angela Swanson.
On Nov. 3, Wallace and incumbent board president Wendy David faced challenger Cefalu in the race for two seats. David received 40 percent, or 2,585 votes, Cefalu received 1,847 votes, while Wallace followed closely with 1,842 votes.
El Dorado County clerk/registrar Bill Schultz said there will not be a recount.
While other ballot items had larger margins of victory, the school district candidates waited a week for the absentee, vote-by-mail and provisional ballots to be counted. Election night returns showed Cefalu with a five-vote lead over Wallace, a few days later she was leading by 10 votes as mail-in ballots were counted.
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On Tuesday, Schultz announced the final results.
“I’m ecstatic,” Cefalu said. “It was such a long wait and it turned out well.”
It’s not the first time Wallace was defeated by a close race. When he ran for class president, Wallace lost by 14 votes. There were 1,480 votes cast, but only 1,200 students in his high school.
“People voted up a storm at the voting machines and they let them keep (the results),” Wallace said. “I learned how to win and lose at an early age.”
Wallace went on to spend 16 years – four elected terms – as a board member for the South Tahoe Public Utility District.
Wallace said he will continue to serve the community in other capacities.
“This will not stop me from serving,” he said. “There’s other ways to serve; coaching and volunteering.”
Wallace will step down from the school board next month. He reflected on his five months on the board.
“The thing I’m most proud of is how the (test) scores have gone up due to the teachers teaching so well, “Wallace said, “even through their budgets have been slashed.
“They’re doing so much more with so much less,” Wallace added. “I’m proud to have been a part of it for a brief time.”
Cefalu said she is eager to get started and has been scheduling appointments with school administrators to get up to speed.
“This is new to me in the sense that the school district board is different than the other boards I’ve been on,” Cefalu said. “Therefore, I have to learn exactly what’s expected of me, what the boundaries are.
“I already know the schools and I am very pleased,” she added. “We have very good schools – as a matter of fact, excellent.”
Cefalu has worked with children for the past 16 years as a court appointed special advocate. Her own children graduated from South Tahoe High School, and now her grandchildren attend district schools.
“My thought was I owe Lake Tahoe Unified School District for all the years they took care of all my kids, including my own, for an education, and I’m trying to give something back,” she said.
Cefalu’s son, Chris Cefalu, was also elected to his first term on the STPUD board. He will replace incumbent Ernie Claudio.
“I am even more ecstatic for him,” she said. “He was way ahead (in the votes) and I am very excited for him and know he will do a great job. There’s no doubt about it.”