And then there were two! A three-horse race for the Sunnyside School Board seat being vacated by Steve Carpenter has been whittled down to Sandra Linde and Leroy Werkhoven.
The general consensus heading into the Aug. 16 Primary Election was that local voters couldn't have gone wrong in selecting any one of the three candidates vying for Carpenter's post. All three are well respected within the Sunnyside community, and all three bring much to the table in terms of helping to set school district policy.
Initial tabulations of the votes cast in the Primary Election reveal, however, that Mike Wedam has been eliminated from the race. A bovine veterinary specialist, Wedam garnered 429 votes, 28.4 percent of the 1,510 votes that were cast.
Linde, a mother of six children who still has two youngsters attending Sunnyside schools, surfaced as the favorite for the Nov. 8 General Election. Her name was chosen on 37.1 percent of the ballots that were cast in the Primary Election, 560 votes total.
The man she'll square off against in the General Election, Werkhoven, drew 510 votes, or 33.8 percent of the total votes cast.
Werkhoven offers Sunnyside School District patrons a long career in the educational field, including serving as an administrator in three different school districts. Locally, he's most well known for having served as the Wapato High School principal for 15 years.
In an earlier interview leading up to the start of the Primary Election, Werkhoven said, if elected, his top priority will be to address student dropout rates.
Citing an individual's greatest asset as having a great education, Werkhoven, since retiring from the educational field, has been heavily involved in helping youths through the Gear-Up and 21st Century learning programs.
Linde is well entrenched in the Sunnyside community, presently serving as special programs coordinator, chaplain and grant writer at Sunnyside Community Hospital, which partners with the Sunnyside schools on a number of projects.
She has been extremely active from a volunteer standpoint in the local schools, as well, serving on nearly every advisory committee the school district has formed. A regular fixture at the monthly school board meetings, Linde said she views her candidacy for the soon-to-be-vacated director's seat as the next step in her involvement with Sunnyside schools.
In addressing what will probably be her top consideration, if elected to public office, Linde indicated that spending has to be prioritized "...in the face of what will likely be more budget cuts in the future.
"The number one priority is to keep the people who provide direct educational services," Linde added.