Swanson, David take school board race | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Swanson, David take school board race

William Ferchland

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Angela Swanson, left, chats with her friend Angie Freeman about the early election results Tuesday night.

As incumbent Wendy David held firm with the most votes, the other open seat on the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education was a close race between Angela Swanson and John Nemes.

Swanson’s supporters were a bit uneasy about the thin margin the education consultant had over Nemes for the second spot based on early returns.

“It is very close,” Swanson said at a small gathering at a house off Golden Bear Trail. “We won’t know about this until the end.”

Darting between people to get to a computer, Swanson admitted she thought the three spots were closer than she expected. Her campaign raised more than $4,000 to put her on the five-member board.

She spoke of needing to be in Sacramento at 8:30 a.m. after election night. She hoped to be energized by a win but said her work would distract her if she lost.

“I’ve waited a lifetime for this opportunity,” Swanson said. “I’ve known all my life I’d run for office.”

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Nemes, a retired teacher who promised to bring “new blood” to the board, could not be reached for comment. Although the South Tahoe Educators Association decided not to endorse candidates, Nemes said that if elected he would give teachers a voice on the board.

David was likely ushered into her third term. In the past two elections she was in, the Court Appointed Special Advocate case manager was the top vote getter.

“I hope that this term will be my best term ever,” she said at her house. Guests were downstairs but David wanted to peek at a computer screen displaying the county’s elections department Web site.

Holding a glass of white wine and buoyed by the early results, David made an announcement to a small ensemble situated in her kitchen.

“Better results than Measure L,” she said, referring to the district’s failed parcel tax initiative in April 2004.

Candidate Rolf Hermann “Ralph” Mayer said he would be asleep before all voting precincts reported results. The retired prosecutor ran two years ago for one of three seats on the board but came in the sixth, and last, place.

He chose to take an optimistic view of his second last-place position.

“I did a lot better than I did last time (when) I came in sixth,” Mayer said. “I think two steps up is better.”

Four candidate forums, albeit lightly attended, provided the candidates an opportunity to voice their stance on a school district that has been strained by declining enrollment.

Nemes campaigned for the most change while David and Swanson were mostly satisfied with the district’s direction. Mayer voiced the need for another attempt at a parcel tax.

The race for the two school board seats was void of mudslinging that frequently occurs in political campaigns. Candidates sometimes agreed with each other’s points and disagreed without argument.

“It was a great experience, win or lose,” Swanson said. “I was delighted to be in the company of the people I ran for board with. The campaign was run with dignity and mutual respect which was nice. It never got personal in any way. To put yourself through something like this was a great experience.”