Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education President Don Schlichte easily won re-election Tuesday, and he’ll have two new board members to work with for the next four years.
Schlichte, first elected to the school board in 2001, garnered 206 votes for the District 1 seat. Challengers Jan Marfyak, with 123, and Mario X. Martinez, with 95, ran against him. Marfyak also ran against Schlichte four years ago, was defeated then, 200-140.
In District 3, basically a one-woman race after Trina McKee registered to be on the ballot, then decided opponent Martha Janssen was a better candidate, still had 16 people vote for her.
Janssen, however, got 58 votes and will replace two-term board member Margaret Terry, who decided not to seek re-election.
In the four-person race for the District 5 seat, vacated initially by state Sen. Craig Brandt — filled by former board member Reinaldo Garcia, who opted not to run for re-election — Catherine Cullen emerged victorious with 110 votes, 29 more than runner-up Kelly Howe.
Victor Rodriguez garnered 57 votes, Charles “Alex” Weimer had 35 votes, while Sandra Atwood — who, like McKee, decided after filing that she didn’t want the seat but whose name was still on the ballot – had 4 votes.
Schlichte said he wasn’t surprised at the low turnout: Only 299 District 1 voters cast ballots in 1999, he ran unopposed in 2003, and 340 people voted in 2009.
“Everybody’s going to lament the low turnout, but it’s been about the same every time,” he said. “My margin over Marfyak is actually a few more votes. Not much has changed in the last four years.” he noted. “The other new members are going to be good members. The board is in good hands and we’ll continue on the path we’ve been on — which is why I ran. I think the board will continue to serve the community and the kids well.”
The school board, with Terry and Garcia still on board, meets Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Janssen and Cullen will be sworn-in and take their new seats next month, set for Monday, March 11, also at 5:30 p.m.