Phoenixville School Board: 4 incumbents win re-election

PHOENIXVILLE — All four incumbents on the Phoenixville Area School Board will retain their seats after Tuesday’s election, though the last seat was decided by less than 70 votes.

Joshua Gould, Jan Potts and Betsy Ruch, and Dan Cushing won back their seats and fended off rookie challenger Lisa Longo, according to unofficial election results from Chester County Voter Services.

According to the site’s numbers, Gould was the top vote getter with 3,167, followed by Potts with 3,054, and Ruch with 3,038.

“For myself, its such an honor — and really very humbling - to look at the results and see how many people support me, I have to thank them and everyone who got out and voted today,” Gould told 21st Century Media via email late Tuesday night.

The race of the night was between Cushing and Longo for the last available seat.

Cushing narrowly won, according to the county’s unofficial numbers, 2,271 to 2,208.

Gould is the current school board president and will serve a third term.

“One attribute I bring to the board is the ability to approach issues analytically, ask questions, gather data and make an educated decision rather than an emotional or uninformed decision,” he told 21st Century Media before the election.

Like all five candidates on the ballot, Gould named expansion of the district as a main concern he’d like to address, specifically naming “classroom space at the elementary level” as a focus.

Potts, an appointee to the board in 2009 who later won the election that year, won her second election Tuesday night.

The current board vice president and chairwoman of the curriculum committee, Potts said before the election that she thought “the most pressing issue facing the district is finding and purchasing property for the needed expansion of current facilities and our future planning as the school district grows.”

She also said she felt “great progress was made over the last year” in teacher negotiations which are scheduled to start up for a new contract in January.

Ruch will serve a second term as a result of Tuesday’s election.

A retired college and junior high school teacher, Ruch told 21st Century Media before the election that her status as a retiree on fixed income makes her “familiar with the importance of living within my means.”

One of her main concerns was keeping living in the district affordable for senior homeowners.

She also serves as chairwoman of the personnel committee.

Another board member since 2009, Cushing is the chairman of the school board’s building and grounds committee.

As such, he said he was working toward ”long-term capacity solutions of the district.”

“The current overcrowding, together with the continued enrollment growth, will require the acquisition

Longo was a district parent who was running for a political position for the first time. Among her focuses were energy efficiency of district buildings and construction projects as well as refining district transportation costs.

According to Facebook chatter, Mike Ellis, a father of at least one student in the district, ran a write-in campaign for the school board but ultimately did not receive enough votes.

Only 87 votes came in as write-ins, according to the unofficial results from the county’s website.

Although the election was too close to call at the time, Gould said he was confident whoever won would help move the district forward.

“This is such a strong board, and it will still be a strong Board no matter who wins tonight,” Gould said at the time. “Phoenixville Area School District continues to improve driven by an extremely talented administration and staff. The board has significant decisions to make regarding the future of the district, I am very confident that the board will be up to the challenge.”

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.

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