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Voters Cite Eight-Way School Board Race As Motivation in Light Turnout

Just 10.6 percent of registered voters came out to cast a ballot in the crowded school board race Wednesday.

Weeks before the school election, West Deptford Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman fretted about the election coming dead in the middle of the school district’s spring break, and its possible effect on turnout.

During his budget presentations to the public, he made it a point to note that fact, and pointed out the option of voting by mail in an effort to get voters out to the polls.

Turns out he was spot-on about the low turnout.

Just 1,560 out of 14,714 registered voters cast a ballot in Wednesday’s election, after 2010’s school election saw more than 3,000 go to the polls. Still, it was a bigger turnout than two years ago, when only 1,135 cast a vote on the budget.

The voters who did show up this time almost universally cited the eight-way Board of Education race as their main reason for going out to vote.

Maryanne Massari, who has five kids who have gone through the school system, said the school board race was paramount.

“I think it’s important we have a good school board that going to have the best interests of the kids in mind,” she said.

Brad and Kelly Cook, who have a daughter in first grade and a son heading into kindergarten next year, also pointed to the eight-way race as their reason for heading out to Oakview Elementary in the early evening.

“I think there needs to be some change on the school board,” Kelly Cook said.

Having kids in the school district is a “huge motivator” in getting involved and voting in school elections, they said.

“I think there’s a different level of awareness when your kids are in school, and a different level of concern, as well,” Kelly Cook said.

Some were dissatisfied about the budget, though.

Sara Marino, a senior citizen who voted at Red Bank School, was one of several who said the district is spending too much and needs to fix its priorities.

“[Students] need somebody to teach them and give them a good direction,” she said. “Sports and stuff, that’s ridiculous.”

Wednesday night's complete results are below, with winners are in bold:

Candidate Votes Matthew Burns 270 Nancy Reeves 447 John Hayden 346 Peter Guzzetti 522 Dr. Brian Gotchel 771 Kate Cargill 551 Ginny Brockway 776 Cathleen Ryer 304 Write-in 24

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