Farrington, Oden win seats on Nashua's Board of Education
NASHUA — The city will have two new faces on the Board of Education.
Challengers George Farrington and Dotty Oden won two of the four open seats in this year's race. Voters also returned incumbents Sandra Ziehm and David Murotake to the board. Dennis Ryder, who was seeking a second term, and Thomas Vaughan who was running for a third term, came in fifth and sixth.
Farrington, who served on the board during the 1990s, came out on top with 4,179 votes followed by Ziehm, who ended the night with 4,136.
Oden, who also served a term on the board during the 1990s before returning to her career as an elementary school teacher, came in third with 3,866 votes and David Murotake won a second term with 3,302 votes.
It was a cordial campaign, with the two challengers attending months of board and committee meetings where they were regularly asked by the sitting board members if they were sure they wanted the job.
And more than once, Ziehm encouraged voters to cast a vote for Oden. Both women focused on the needs of kids, classrooms and teachers during the campaign.
"I'm running for the kids," said Oden repeatedly.
Ziehm spoke often about the "magic of the classroom" and the need to channel more resources such as paraprofessionals and reading specialists to elementary school classrooms where, she believes, schools have the chance to make some of their greatest gains.
Farrington campaigned on a message of more involvement for teachers and parents, and fewer top-down mandates and initiatives from the board and administrators.
"Raising expectations for kids is one of the most important things we can do," he said.The Common Core Standards have been a hot issue in Nashua, with many parents and members of the community opposing the national educational reform movement that maps out what students should know at each grade level.
The six candidates brought differing views on Common Core to the campaign, with Vaughan and Ryder supporting it, Murotake calling for a two-year delay in starting the program's new assessment tests, Farrington saying the public needs more information, and Ziehm and Oden opposing the emphasis on testing and changes such as a shifting away from classic literature to informational text.