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Morgan, Quackenbush advance in District 7

By Staff | Aug 30, 2016

Cathleen Morgan

Only two of the five candidates who battled it out in the primary election for the new Lee County School Board District 7 seat are moving forward to the November election.

Cathleen Morgan earned the majority of the ballots cast with 31,529 votes or 32.68 percent, followed by Chris Quackenbush with 26,208 votes or 27.16 percent, according to figures on the Lee County Elections Office website. The women will face off against one another in the Nov. 8 general election.

Third place went to Betsy Vaughn, who garnered 16,135 votes or 16.72 percent, followed by Derrick Donnell with 14,471 votes or 15 percent, according to the website. Out of all of the five candidates, Guido A. Minaya came in in last place, taking home only 8,143 of the total votes cast or 8.44 percent.

On Tuesday, Morgan was pleased to come in as the top vote-getter.

“I think this will be a very interesting campaign because I’m a pro public education candidate,” she said. “I think we have a terrific system in place in Lee County, though I think we can do better.”

Chris Quackenbush

Morgan added that the school district has a great superintendent.

“With the right board, we can really shift the public education to the next level,” she said.

Morgan said her opponent wants to move children to home schooling and other facilities.

“She’s going to be attacking public education,” she said. “I think it will be an interesting contrast for the public.”

Heading into the general election, Morgan plans to stick to her platform.

“My game place has always been that we have great people and we have great schools, but we have failing students and some failing schools,” she said, adding that the district needs to tackle the failing parts “to elevate the system as a whole.”

Quackenbush said the public needs to be aware of the difference between her and Morgan.

“I think we have a lot more work to do,” she said, adding that there has been a decline and there is stagnancy in the schools. “I’m a new person on the scene, and I have a lot more work to do.”

Quackenbush said it is common sense versus Common Core.

“We have to really win this for the kids,” she said. “We need fresh voices on that board. I hope the public recognizes that.”

In the coming months, Quackenbush will work out a new campaign approach with her manager.

“I think it’ll be walking a lot more precincts, talking to a lot more parents,” she said.

“We have to break the power of the establishment and make sure that we restore local control,” Quackenbush added.

Vaughn pointed out that she came in third, but it was her first time running for office.

“It’s been an amazing journey, and I’ve made a lot of new friends and a lot of community connections,” she said. “It’s just given me a new interest in some community areas that I find really need a boost.”

Vaughn noted that she is perhaps a better activist than a politician.

“I intend to stay in community activities, especially when it involves our underserved youth,” she said.

“I’m a little disappointed, but I wouldn’t trade the experience,” Vaughn added.

Despite the loss, Donnell thanked his supporters and God.

“I feel that we live in a society where we’re ruled by democracy, and the voters have spoken,” he said. “I respect the voters’ decision and I wish them the best.”

Minaya also thanked his supporters and was appreciative of the feedback.

“There’s many views that Cathleen Morgan and I have in common,” he said, offering his congratulations to both her and Quackenbush.

“I look forward to seeing how I can be of service and support our community in the future,” Minaya added.

Morgan felt she had the toughest race because it had the “greatest pool of quality candidates.”

“I had great candidates in my race,” she said. “They were all committed.”

“I hope they put their names on the ballot again in two years,” Morgan added.

According to the website, there are 408,457 registered voters in Lee County. A total of 117,687 ballots were cast in Tuesday’s primary election, meaning a total of 28.81 percent of the voters turned out.

In 2014, Lee County voters approved expanding the school board from five to seven members. As of November, the five original seats will be elected from their district, while the two new seats – District 6 and District 7 – will be elected countywide. The five original seats had been voted on countywide.

School board races are non-partisan.

Election results are unofficial until certified.