Voters in the Lawrence school district re-elected Vanessa Sanburn to another term and chose two political newcomers, Adina Morse and Kristie Adair, to serve for the next four years.
That left incumbent Bob Byers as the odd man out in the four-way race.
"It is what it is," Byers said with a shrug as the election results were reported Tuesday night, along with approval of a $92.5 million school bond issue. "Basically, there wasn't a topic to separate us. The only issue that could have separated us would have been around the bond, and we all agreed."
In fact, the four candidates were so similar in their positions on most issues that there was also little difference in their vote totals.
Although Byers, the board's only African-American, finished in fourth place in the three-way race, he was only about 800 votes behind Sanburn, the frontrunner, and less than 300 votes behind Adair for third place.
With 84 of 86 precincts reporting late Tuesday night, unofficial results showed Sanburn with 5,387 votes, followed by Morse with 5,180, Adair with 4,847 and Byers with 4,579. Sanburn, Morse and Adair will begin their new terms July 1.
Sanburn said knew the race would be close because the candidates had similar positions. "At all of the forums I was at, we didn't have a lot of views that differed a lot," she said. "We were all clearly for the bond; we were all clearly for funding education."
"It was unfortunately the type of race where we all had passion for the bond," said Adair, who narrowly edged out Byers for the third seat. "We were all sort of fighting for the same goal, so it was hard to tell one candidate from another."
The closeness of the school board race stood in sharp contrast to the overwhelming margin of victory for the bond issue, Unofficial results showed the bond proposal passing, 72 percent to 28 percent.
Morse said she was surprised by the margin of victory for the bond issue, but not by the overall result. "Lawrence supports education," Morse said.