The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 05, 2020 1:00 am

FWCS seat fate unclear

Smith, 78, gets reelected despite planning to resign

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Voters in Fort Wayne Community Schools apparently didn't listen to a candidate's insistence that he doesn't want the job.

They also overwhelmingly supported the board's longest-serving member in a race against a college student and ousted a two-term incumbent in favor of a parent with students in the district.

Board President Julie Hollingsworth doesn't know how incumbent Tom Smith's narrow win against Bill Critell will play out.

A total 7,021 voters – or about 51% – reelected Smith to the District 3 seat, while 6,782 supported Critell, a retired principal, according to unofficial election results released Wednesday.

Smith, who turns 78 in January, decided after the August filing deadline that a second term isn't best for him or District 3. He has said he plans to resign at the end of his current term even if voters thought otherwise.

He didn't immediately return a phone call made Wednesday seeking comment.

Hollingsworth likely will talk with Smith about his intentions at Monday's board meeting.

“It's kind of up to him,” Hollingsworth said Wednesday evening. “He could have a change of heart. I have no idea.”

In District 2, newcomer Jennifer Matthias upset incumbent Glenna Jehl, whose tweets drew criticism in recent months.

Matthias, whose interest in education and school board meetings deepened when honors classes were threatened, nabbed 40% of votes in a race that included Regenia Jones.

About 33% of voters supported Jehl while 27% backed Jones.

“It has been a long day of awaiting results but they are final,” Matthias posted Wednesday evening on Facebook. “Thank you for your unwavering support! I look forward to serving our community.”

Steve Corona, who has served on the board since 1981, got 7,995 votes – about 64% – compared with District 5 challenger Jose Dominguez's 4,417 votes.

The 2010 election was the last time all FWCS candidates were opposed for the nonpartisan office.

Hollingsworth liked the competition.

“I'm glad that there is interest, that all three races were contested,” she said. “It brings more attention to public education, and the importance of public education, and the importance of public education to our community.”

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