In the Pleasant Ridge School District race for two open seats on the school board, political newcomer Mary Newberry garnered more votes than her two incumbent rivals defending their seats.
Newberry’s 475 votes represented 42.5 percent of the votes cast, beating Scott Hopper’s 432 votes (35.13 percent) and S. Robert Tice-Raskin’s 213 votes (22.82 percent).
With the two open seats going to the top two vote-getters, Tice-Raskin’s term will end when Newberry is sworn in at the December meeting of the school board, said Superintendent Britta Skavdahl.
Both Tice-Raskin and Hopper were appointed in March and June, respectively, to fill board vacancies. With Tice-Raskin’s departure, the board will not have the benefit of his legal expertise as a Havard-educated attorney.
On Election Day, Newberry said she had hoped just to get one more vote than her two opponents.
Her television was tuned to Nevada County Television’s Election Day coverage, but when they started reading off the school board election results, she said she closed her eyes she was so nervous.
“I thought I was at the bottom of the list,” Newberry said. “When I heard the numbers, I was amazed and grateful. I thought, ‘Holy mackerel!’”
Much of Newberry’s successful bid for the school board seat can be attributed to her 34 years in the district, where she touched the lives of multiple generations of families.
“I know a lot of people,” Newberry said. “The last few days I was walking, and everyone I met told me they voted for me.”
Newberry began her career volunteering at Pleasant Ridge school in 1978 and was later hired on as a fourth-grade teacher’s aid.
The newly elected school board member recalls the shared efforts of the parents to fend for the district before the housing market in south county came into such demand.
“All the parents, everybody in the community, everybody did everything together, even when we didn’t have money,” Newberry said.
After 13 years as a classroom aid, Newberry went back to school to get a teaching degree and was hired as a third-grade teacher at Alta Sierra. Since then, Newberry also taught first and second grade before retiring in June 2011. She still volunteers at Cottage Hill Elementary.
“There is something to be said about 30 years in the district,” Skavdahl said.
Newberry and her husband have three children, two who went through Pleasant Ridge schools. She also has six grandchildren, spanning in ages from 22 years old to seven months.
Perhaps the most looming challenge before the district is its fiscal woes. Voters rejected Measure K, which would have raised the per-parcel tax by $92 to all land parcels within the boundaries of Pleasant Ridge School District for five years. With the measure’s failure, the district must find another way to counteract $800,000 in deficit spending in the current fiscal year’s budget.
Newberry said her immediate goals on the board will be to cut costs but to keep those cuts as far away from programs and staff as possible.
“I have a long history of volunteerism. If we need something, I’m there,” Newberry said. “That’s why I ran. Money is short, things are tight and I can work with a lot of people to help.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.
“When I heard the numbers, I was amazed and grateful. I thought, ‘Holy mackerel!’”
— Mary Newberry