New Ken-Arnold School Board: 2 incumbents out, another tied |
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Madasyn Czebiniak

At least two incumbents of the New Kensington-Arnold School Board are on their way out, and another’s tenure appears to be hanging in the balance, according to Westmoreland County’s unofficial election results.

In the Democratic Party race for Region I, two candidates received the same number of votes for one of two available seats.

Incumbent Eric Doutt and newcomer Deborah Schreckengost each received 316 votes, or 25.8% of the votes, the results show. There was one write-in vote.

“I’m very pleased,” said Schreckengost, 62, of Arnold.

Doutt, Arnold’s police chief, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Schreckengost is one of five candidates who ran on a Change4NKASD ticket, promising to overhaul the way the school board operates. The Change4NKASD candidates were opposing incumbents in Regions I and III. They also ran in Region II, where no current board member was seeking another term.

All but one of the candidates were cross-filed, meaning they appeared on the Democratic and Republican ballots.

Westmoreland Director of Elections Beth Lechman said the bureau is working on counting absentee ballots, which could break the Region I Democratic tie.

If those don’t decide the winner, it could come down to luck.

According to Lechman, ties typically are broken by casting lots.

“We put two balls in a jar. Whoever gets the ball with the number 1 on it is the winner,” Lechman said.

If needed, the casting will take place before June 3, which is when the bureau pre-certifies the primary results, Lechman said.

Region I

Terry Shrock, 53, of New Kensington came in first on the Democratic ballot with 26.9% of the votes. He came in second on the Republican ballot with 26.6% votes.

Schrock, who also ran on the Change4NKASD ticket, is an attorney who works in Pittsburgh.

Moving forward, he hopes to realign the interests of the students, teachers, taxpayers and administration to improve the students’ educational experience.

“Whenever any one group’s interests are elevated over that of another group, or whenever interests within a school district are looked at as being in competition with one another, I think that that can lead to some dysfunction,” he said. “I think we all just need to get on the same page and work toward a common purpose.”

Schreckengost came in first on the Republican ballot with 31.4% of the votes.

She said she will run as a Republican in the November general election regardless of the outcome of the Democratic primary.

A former school district custodial and maintenance worker, Schreckengost wants to focus on education and getting better technology for students.

“Hopefully, we all have good ideas to put all together just to make it better,” she said. “There is no magic quick fix, but I think with a good talk session we could really move forward and make our district really good.”

Incumbent Kathleen Clarke, a retired federal officer, received 18.6% of the votes on the Republican ballot and 21.4% of the votes on the Democratic ballot.

Region III

High school teacher John D. Cope, part of the Change4-NKASD team, beat out incumbent Kristin O’Sullivan on both the Democratic and Republican ballots. O’Sullivan is an office manager who has served five years on the board.

“I think the people of New Kensington wanted to hear some fresh voices,” Cope said.

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