Vot­ers choose Mitchell, Grif­fin

School board elec­tions see low turnout

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

Vot­ers on Tues­day elected An­gela Mitchell and Mered­ith Grif­fin Jr. to the Christina School Board.

Ac­cord­ing to Depart­ment of Elec­tion of­fi­cials, who called turnout “abysmal,” only 1.2 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers cast a bal­lot.

In Nom­i­nat­ing Dis­trict B, Mitchell edged out three com­peti­tors with 480 votes, which is ap­prox­i­mately 39 per­cent of the votes cast. Justin Day came in sec­ond with 457 votes, fol­lowed by Mon­ica Mo­riak with 232 and Karen Sobotker with 72. She will fill the seat of Meg Ma­son, who abruptly re­signed less than a year into her term, and will serve un­til 2021.

Mitchell, a 33-year-old res­i­dent of Richards Lane near Ne­wark, is a for­mer teacher at Ban­croft Ele­men­tary and West Park Place Ele­men­tary. She has three kids in the dis­trict, two at the Christina Early Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter and one in the Delaware Autism Pro­gram.

Af­ter at­tend­ing Christina schools grow­ing up, she’s dis­ap­pointed the dis­trict has de­clined.

“I’ve seen what it was once,” Mitchell said prior to the elec­tion. “I want my kids to have the same won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.”

She said she hopes to ad­vo­cate for spe­cial needs stu­dents and other vul­ner­a­ble groups.

“I see my­self be­ing a voice for those pop­u­la­tions,” she said.

Mitchell said she wants the dis­trict to in­crease op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to re­ceive bilin­gual ed­u­ca­tion and wants to bring an in­clu­sion model to the Delaware Autism Pro­gram.

In Nom­i­nat­ing Dis­trict G, Grif­fin took 828 votes, or 60 per­cent, eas­ily de­feat­ing Jef­frey Day, who had 369 votes, and Ki­mara Smith, who had 179. He will re­place in­cum­bent Shirley Sut­ton-Saf­fer, who did not seek re­elec­tion, and serve un­til 2022.

Grif­fin, 51, who lives in the Tim­ber Farms neigh­bor­hood east of Ne­wark, is the found­ing pas­tor at Har­vest Chris­tian Fel­low­ship and cur­rently serves on the Wilm­ing­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Im­prove­ment Com­mis­sion and the Rodel Foun­da­tion of Delaware Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee. Pre­vi­ously, he served on the Delaware Char­ter School Net­work Gov­ern­ing Board and the board of the now-de­funct Mau­rice J. Moyer Aca­demic In­sti­tute.

Dur­ing his cam­paign, he said he wants to see Christina be­come a “des­ti­na­tion dis­trict,” in­stead of thou­sands of stu­dents leav­ing to go to char­ter or choice schools.

His older child grad­u­ated from Chris­tiana High School, but his younger child is a se­nior at Ne­wark Char­ter School.

“I un­der­stand the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions 6,000 par­ents have made,” he said, re­fer­ring to the de­ci­sion to send a child to a non-Christina school. “The ques­tion the dis­trict has to wres­tle with is how to stem the tide.”

He said im­prov­ing the dis­trict has to start with good lead­er­ship on the board.

“If there’s tur­moil on the board, your dis­trict per­son­nel don’t feel con­fi­dent they’re be­ing led in the right di­rec­tion, and that trick­les down,” Grif­fin said.

He added that Christina needs to work on im­prov­ing its rep­u­ta­tion by “scream­ing from the rooftops” about good things go­ing on in the dis­trict, rather than al­low­ing neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences to dom­i­nate the con­ver­sa­tion.

Nei­ther can­di­date could be reached for com­ment fol­low­ing Tues­day’s elec­tion.



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