BERKELEY -- Two open Berkeley school board seats will likely go to Judy Appel and incumbent Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, who was running for a second term.

Tracy Hollander, a school volunteer, and Norma Harrison, a real estate agent, were also vying for a seat on the board.

One of the first tasks facing the winners will be choosing a new superintendent, a process that until now has been mired in criticism and controversy.

The search for a new superintendent started in January, shortly after Superintendent Bill Huyett announced his retirement. But the current board, which paid a search firm $30,000 to find candidates for the job, has been criticized for choosing a finalist who later backed out after parents and teachers unearthed a 2008 memo he wrote against gay marriage.

Edmond Heatley, who was superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools near Atlanta when the Berkeley board announced he was their final candidate, wrote the memo while he was superintendent of the Chino Valley Unified School District. The memo, urging his school board to take a stand against gay marriage, caused an uproar in Berkeley, and Heatley withdrew.

The search for a new superintendent is on hold until after the election.

Appel said, if elected, she would rebuild community confidence in the board and unify it to make sure "we are a place a superstar superintendent would want to come." She said a new search firm would know what Berkeley wants and does not want in a candidate before it sought them out, and she would restart the process of gathering community input that the current board started last spring.

Leyva-Cutler said the failed search for a new superintendent is usually the first issue that comes up when she speaks on the campaign trail. She too would hire a new search firm and participate in any site visit to a prospective superintendent's current place of work, although she said she did not go to Atlanta to visit Heatley's place of work because she didn't have time. Only one board member went on that site visit, but she contends that number is adequate to gather information and report back.

Hollander, a former classroom teacher, said she believes the search firm was partly at fault in not bringing good candidates, but the board should take more responsibility for its actions. Hollander said she would seek out a candidate who is a "good instructional leader, not someone who is just good at balancing a budget."

Harrison, also a former teacher, declined to answer questions about the search for a new superintendent because her desire to overthrow our current form of government oppression and capitalism and move toward a more socialist system make it irrelevant.