LIVERMORE -- On a day when voters statewide approved a tax increase designed to spare further cuts to public education, Livermore residents tapped an incumbent and reached to its past to help lead the school district.

Thomas McLaughlin, 81, who served on the board from 2000-08, received the most votes of the four candidates seeking two seats on the five-member Livermore school board.

McLaughlin had finished third in the race for two seats in 2008, losing to Stewart Gary and Chuck Rogge.

But, on Nov. 6, McLaughlin was the highest vote-getter. Incumbent Rogge, 60, came in a very close second, followed by appointed incumbent Belia Martinez and David Jonas.

"My son called and woke me up at midnight to let me know," said McLaughlin. "I want to work for the betterment of kids and for good programs for all kids."

Districts across the state could have faced billions of dollars in cuts had Proposition 30, which raised income and sales taxes, not passed. Livermore could have lost to $4.6 million in funding.

Despite Proposition 30's passage, McLaughlin and Rogge said the budget will still be an issue for the district, which has cut nearly $34 million out of its $106 million budget over the past four years.

"A lot of people don't understand that we won't get more money, it (Proposition 30) will just stabilize what we have now," said Rogge. "It is good for schools, but the system is still broken, and we need to get some meaningful legislation for school funds."

Rogge and McLaughlin said that charter school issues will be the immediate focus of the board. Tri-Valley Learning Corp. had its petition to open a third school in Livermore denied by the board Oct. 16, and its renewal for one of its remaining schools will be voted on by the board before the end of the year.

An aging infrastructure and the 2015 expiration of Measure M, a $138-a-year parcel tax, are also expected to be issues the board will deal with over the next four years.

"I am happy to re-elected, and there won't be as tough of times if the proposition hadn't gone through," Rogge said. "That is one problem we won't have to deal with, but we still have to get kids educated."