Incumbents return in close school board race
It was fitting that one of the most high-profile races in this year’s local elections, left everyone guessing right up until the last minute when the final results were posted shortly before midnight.
In the end, it was the two incumbents – Patricia Gibbons-Johnson and Cindy Gustafson – who would retain their seats on the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s Board of Trustees.
“I was a little nervous,” said Gibbons-Johnson, who was neck and neck with her opponent, Prosser Creek Charter School parent Sonya Retzlaff, for most of the ballot counting.
In Nevada County, the incumbent earned 1,696 votes compared to Retzlaff’s 1,671 – a difference of just 25 votes. But Gibbons-Johnson’s win was solidified in Placer County, where she received roughly 1,299 votes, as opposed to Retzlaff’s 1,134.
The third candidate for Area 1, Joseph Ferrerra, received a little over 900 votes in both counties combined.
All of these numbers are still preliminary, as the final tallies will not be certified for 28 days, however, significant changes are unlikely.
“I’m very appreciative of this opportunity to serve on the school board for four more years,” Gibbons-Johnson said.
“I feel that this has been a very good school board that has worked well together. I know that we’ve got some tough issues ahead of us, but I’m looking forward to continuing my work in the district.”
Retzlaff was also in high spirits Wednesday morning, when the Sierra Sun caught up with her just before she left for a playgroup in the park with her 3-year-old son.
“This was an extremely rewarding experience for me,” Retzlaff said.
“Honestly, I think the level of community awareness that came out of this election is really a victory in and of itself. I think we’ve made a huge step in the right direction.”
“I also think it’s great that we had a really good showing, especially against two incumbents,” she added.
As for what’s next, Retzlaff said she plans to continue to follow the school board closely.
“I want to remain very involved,” Retzlaff said. “I feel that over the last few months, I’ve become very educated and well-informed on the issues in this district and plan to stay very active.”
Candidate Ferrerra said the election motivated him to remain involved in the district as well.
“As a thank you to the nearly 1,000 people who voted for me, I plan to keep attending meetings, voicing my concerns and asking the board for the things I’d like to see in our schools,” he said.
“It’s up to us as a community to make sure that we continue on a path of success for our kids.”
He added that he thought both Gustafson and Gibbons-Johnson were very good candidates.
“Cindy is one of the greatest resources that our school community could ask for,” Ferrera said. “And Pat is such an incredibly knowledgeable person who knows the facts and keeps the facts.”
On the lakeside of the district, Gustafson beat out John Walsh and Michael Lipe for the Area 5 seat.
“It’s rewarding to know that the work you put in is valued by the community and that you’ve earned respect,” Gustafson said.
Gustafson was also celebrating the passage of the Measure J facilities bond, which will generate much-needed funds to renovate and expand the TTUSD’s school sites on the lake.
This year was the first year there had been an election for the TTUSD board since 1994.
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