Two New Members Win Seats On Board

Posted: April 09, 1989

Two out-of-district schoolteachers and an incumbent board member defeated three other candidates - including the second incumbent in the race - to win three school board seats Tuesday in Gloucester City.

Elected were Cindy W. Harris (351 votes), a French and Spanish teacher at Cherokee High School in Marlton and wife of Gloucester City High School football coach Leon Harris; Edward L. Hutchinson (315 votes), a chemistry teacher at Collingswood High School, and incumbent Robert H. Bennett Sr. (326 votes), who had previously been elected to two partial terms on the board.

The winners defeated incumbent Wesley A. Miley (117 votes) and newcomers Bradley T. Fithian Sr. (202 votes) and Elwood J. Wrigley (206 votes).

By a tally of 318 to 244, voters approved a tax levy of $2,690,467 to support the current budget.

Candidates said that there were no organized voting blocs supporting any of the contenders. Miley, the defeated incumbent, had run unopposed to gain the seat in 1986. Several candidates said he was probably defeated because Harris and Hutchinson have a higher voter recognition.

The turnout for the election was low: 596 voters among the city's 6,372 registrants.

Harris, 31, said that she is well-known to voters because of her husband's position as head football coach at the high school.

Harris said during the campaign that her experience as a teacher would enable her to give the board insight into the students' concerns.

Hutchinson, 36, said he felt that his extensive volunteer work in community youth activities helped give him name recognition in the election. Hutchinson is the father of three boys who are students in the city school system, and he is active in Little League, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. He is assistant varsity football coach at Collingswood High School.

Hutchinson in November ran for City Council as an independent and was narrowly defeated by Else LaBelle. He was appointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment in January.

"With the school board," Hutchinson said, "I just want to learn and see how the system works. When you've been on the other side of the desk for 16 years as a teacher, you can't just go in and make changes. I think the key is the reduction in state funds. You have to cut departments and activities, but which ones? I think I'll be able to offer some advice in those areas.

Bennett, a 51-year-old employee of K mart's maintenance division in Brooklawn, was elected previously to one- and two-year terms on the board. He said that he had considered himself an underdog despite the fact that he was an incumbent.

He said that his priority during his first full term would be to help foster an improvement in students' scores on the state High School Proficiency Test. Bennett also said he wanted to increase public awareness of the need for a strong special education program.

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