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Election yields one new Harrisburg school board member

updated: 4/5/2017 4:53 PM

HARRISBURG -- A political newcomer took one of two in-city Harrisburg Unit 3 School Board seats, while both out-of-city-limits incumbents kept their elected positions.

In-town incumbent Billy Smith had 711 votes, Jonathan Russell had 671 and Michele Way had 557 for in-town candidates unofficially.

Tom DeNeal got 747 votes, Kevin Dowdy received 719 and Kenneth G. Ryder had 484 for out-of-town candidates unofficially.

Russell is new to politics, but he said he believes conversations resulted in his votes.

"I think it was just going out and talking to voters, talking to teachers and talking to the community and listening to their concerns," Russell said.

The school board, which recently concluded a lengthy labor contract negotiation process with the Harrisburg Education Association, faces the challenge of not receiving some important funds from the state, Russell said.

"I'm very concerned especially with our transportation. We haven't received any money for it yet," he said. "We're going to have to keep an eye on expenses and spend less where we can."

Longtime board member DeNeal said he was thankful for the support of voters.

"I appreciate people having the confidence in me to put me back in office," he said.