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UPDATE| Anderson winning re-election to school board; Engstrom also ahead

Two familiar faces will likely return to the South Whidbey School Board.

Board members Leigh Anderson and Jill Engstrom are leading in their respective races to retain their school board seats, according to early vote tallies announced Tuesday night by Island County.

Engstrom was leading with 53 percent of the vote against challenger Tom Fisher, who had 46 percent, in the race for Position 5 on the school board. Engstrom has 1,810 votes to Fisher's 1,586 in early returns.

Anderson was in front of challenger Leo Langer IV, 79 percent to 20 percent, in the initial vote tally for Position 4. Anderson had 2,319 votes, and Langer IV had 580, in the first count on Tuesday night.

Anderson said she was pleasantly surprised by her margin of victory.

"This is my first campaign for public office, so I didn't know what to expect," Anderson said. "I'm very pleased."

Anderson said she relied on a largely electronic campaign, with a Facebook page and a steering committee of a half dozen or so supporters who sent out e-mails on her behalf.

She didn't doorbell, but the campaign e-mails came close.

"Most of them started out, 'Ding, dong,'" Anderson said.

Langer IV, 38, is a South Whidbey School District employee and an assistant coach for the South Whidbey High School football team. During the race, he promised to be a conduit for parents, staff and students to make sure their voices are heard by the district's decision makers.

A former member of the district's facilities advisory committee, he took issue with the school district's move to close Langley Middle School, a decision seen as hasty by some in the community.

Anderson, 52, was appointed to the school board a year ago after Bobby Riggs resigned.

Like Anderson, Engstrom, 52, is also new to the school board. She was also appointed in December when Helen Price Johnson stepped down from the board following her election as an Island County commissioner.

Engstrom was nowhere close to declaring victory Tuesday night.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," Engstrom said.

More enthused was her campaign manager, her son Jackson. A senior at South Whidbey High School, he took on his mom's campaign for his senior project.

"He's pretty happy about this," she said.

Engstrom said, if her lead holds out and she retains her seat, she would concentrate on making improvements in the school district.

She had high praise for her opponent.

"Tom was a great individual," Engstrom said.

Fisher, 60, is a Clinton cabinet maker who previously applied for an appointment to the board. Earlier in the race, he faulted the board for its decision to close LMS, and said he would like to see the district place more emphasis on arts education.

"I think it was a great race," he said. "It brought up a lot of important issues, and a lot people contributed to the debate."

"It's been a great experience," Fisher added.

Both school board positions are non-partisan.

Position 4 carries a two-year term; Position 5 has a four-year term.

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