WARREN - On the night when longtime city school board member Robert Faulkner Sr. was re-elected by a wide margin, three other candidates in Tuesday's general election battled it out for the final seat in what became a razor-thin victory for the other incumbent.
According to incomplete, unofficial results, Regina Patterson received 27.9 percent of the vote, edging challenger Rhonda Bennett, who tallied 27.1 percent.
Faulkner, meanwhile, had no problem retaining his seat, leading all candidates with 33 percent of the vote.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Incumbent Warren City School Board member Robert Faulkner Sr., left, and friend Glenn Holmes, mayor of McDonald, watch the election results at Buena Vista Cafe on Tuesday evening.
"I have 23 years on the board, and I think the community understands, in that time, I've been all about the children," Faulkner said. "I've always been that way."
In the past, Faulkner has been vice president and past president of the school board. Part of his role with the school board has involved serving on 15 local, state and national committees for education, community and transportation.
"I campaigned mainly on safety in the schools, academics and our graduation rate, and ensuring our children get an early start," Faulkner said. "I think that really helps our students, starting them in pre-K programs."
Faulkner has also served as his school district's representative on the Trumbull Career and Technical Center Board of Education.
Voters also chose to re-elect Patterson to the city's school board.
"I just want to thank the voters for giving me another opportunity to serve," Patterson said. "I'd also like to congratulate (challengers) Mrs. Bennett and Mr. (Roderick) Lewis for a job well done. I'm inviting them to join us going forward to help make Warren schools better for everyone."
Bennett, who missed out on her first ever seat with the Warren City Schools Board of Education by just 0.8 percent of the vote, said this result does not defeat her.
"The campaign has been tedious, but it has been worth it," Bennett said. "It was worth it, though, and I anticipate doing a lot of the things I talked about anyway. I will stay active with the schools."
Lewis, the fourth candidate, finished with 12 percent of the tally.
Faulkner believes voters reinforced the work done by the current school board by re-electing both incumbents.
"The majority of the people said they agree with the team that's in place," Faulkner said. "As for the challengers, just because they didn't win this time doesn't mean their ideas don't count.
"They should stay involved. I never discourage anyone from being involved and we like competition," he said.