Meredith Davidson‘s all-out campaign paid off Tuesday with her election to the Morris School District board.
Lisa Pollak, a 21-year veteran of the regional board, held onto the other contested Morristown seat. That left Teresa Murphy, a board member since 2005, as the odd-woman-out in the three-way race.
On the Morris Township side, Leonard Posey easily fended off a challenge from Kenneth Sharperson.
“I want to help everybody succeed,” said Davidson, a former high school social studies teacher with two girls in elementary school.
In a district where incumbents usually run unopposed, Davidson shook things up with lawn signs, mailers and meet-and-greets. She loaned her campaign $6,000, according to filings with the state.
At a candidates forum last month, she vowed to improve communications with parents and expressed support for televised board meetings.
“People want to be involved in the process. It’s always been important to me to involve the community and make things as transparent as possible,” Davidson, president of the Alexander Hamilton Home and School Association, said after garnering 1,400 votes (38 percent) on Tuesday.
That was about 200 votes more than Pollak, a retired attorney, at 33 percent. Murphy, a trainer for Atlantic Health Systems and trustee of the nonprofit Teen Pride, had just over 1,000 votes, good for 28 percent.
Murphy could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night.
“I’m sorry to see her go,” said Posey, the board president, praising Murphy as a bright, collaborative member who brought “lots of good ideas.”
With nearly 2,300 votes, or 64 percent, Posey almost beat Sharperson by two-to-one among Township voters.
At the candidates forum, Posey chided Sharperson for sending two of his four kids to private schools. But both candidates pledged to each other to support the district regardless of the election outcome, according to Posey.
“He had some good ideas, and I want to continue to hear from him,” the board president said.
Sharperson, an attorney and former phys ed teacher, had said the board should work harder to recruit a more diverse faculty that reflects the Hispanic and African American populations in the district, which serves more than 5,200 pupils from Morristown, Morris Township and (for high school) Morris Plains.
He and Davidson suggested it was time for fresh faces on the board. The three incumbents have served a combined total of 49 years (Pollak 21, Posey 16, Murphy 12).
The incumbents cited their experience, saying it’s helped produce a fiscally stable district that delivers a strong education while serving a more diverse population than almost any other district in the state.
Posey said he looks forward to seeing what Davidson can do.
“When people come on the board, they find out it’s a lot of work,” Posey said. “I think she’s up for it.”
And Sharperson, who coaches youth football and soccer, may get another crack at the board in three years. Posey called this his final term; eventually, he intends to retire from a global consulting firm and move closer to family in Florida.