SANTA CRUZ -- Sandra Nichols, a veteran of the Pajaro Valley schools board, won a seat on the county schools board with a wide margin over challenger James Spano.
Nichols, 65, grabbed nearly 80 percent of Tuesday's vote for the county schools Area 3 post, which largely represents Santa Cruz City Schools along with a portion of Scotts Valley Unified and San Lorenzo Valley Unified.
James Spano, the only other candidate, received nearly 20 percent of the 10,200 votes cast.
Nichols replaces longtime county Trustee Arnie Levine, 88, who chose not to seek re-election after 16 years serving the board.
Nichols mounted a strong campaign with endorsements from state Assemblymen Bill Monning and Luis Alejo.
She resigned from her position with Pajaro Valley Unified School District in August after moving from Larkin Valley to Santa Cruz, where she and her husband Peter plan to retire.
Spano is a retired principal at Soquel High School. He also worked as a consultant with the state Department of Education and county Office of Education. He ran a low-key campaign without any major endorsements or yard signs.
In addition to the Area 3 race, two incumbents will return to their seats on the county schools board, while a newcomer ran unopposed.
Without any challengers, the three will be appointed in lieu of an election.
Trustee George "Bud" Winslow will serve on the county board representing Area 4, which includes portions of the Live Oak School District, Soquel Union Elementary School District and Santa Cruz City High School District.
Trustee Dana M. Sales will continue to represent Area 6, which is mostly comprised of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
Jane Barr, a former member of the Pajaro Valley Unified board, is taking over the Area 5 seat held by Trustee Vic Marani, who is not seeking re-election.
Barr will represent portions of Pajaro Valley Unified, Scotts Valley Unified, Happy Valley Elementary, Soquel Union Elementary and Mountain Elementary.
The seven-member county schools board oversees 10 districts, along with several charter schools, special education and alternative schools.
The county office also sponsors a countywide science fair, spelling bee, mock trial and math contest.
Follow Sentinel reporter Shanna McCord on Twitter at Twitter.com/scnewsmom
COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION
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