School board incumbents win election

DeSpain and Headley win as Lane fails in his sixth attempt at a board seat
Wednesday, April 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:42 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Columbia Board of Education will continue business as usual: Incumbents Karla DeSpain and Chuck Headley were both re-elected Tuesday.

DeSpain, who works part time as the financial officer of her husband’s medical practice and keeps busy with her two school-age daughters, will begin her second three-year term.

DeSpain, who secured one of two open seats on the board, said she is relieved the election is over and is glad that the community supported her.

“I’m glad the community has faith in the board and what we’ve done,” she said. “I think voters are saying they agree with the way I’ve done things, approached issues. There’s a trust there.”

Headley, a retired professor, won his third term on the school board.

He said that he views his victory as the community’s way of approving the board’s actions.

“This election showed voters are pleased with the board, not just me or Karla, but with all of the board,” he said. “They approve the sensibility, structure and openness this group of people has shown.”

Both incumbents said that tough challenges await them on the school board.

“Probably the biggest immediate challenge will be the budget,” DeSpain said. “And of course, student-achievement issues will always be waiting right behind that.”

Headley said tough budget constraints will be a priority and that accountability standards set by the state and federal government will also be a top concern.

“Dealing with both of those at the same time will be tough,” said Headley, who supported a model school meant to address accountability standards.

Henry Lane lost for the sixth time Tuesday night. He said he could have put more into the election, but “personal things” got in the way.

Some voters saw extra effort in his campaign — for example, the two hours Monday and 3½ hours Tuesday he stood with his campaign sign at Providence Road and Broadway. Lane said this was a last-minute move to keep active and make the election visible.

“He’s working hard, and I think he deserves a vote by now,” said voter Christiane Quinn, who voted for Lane. Lane said he hasn’t decided whether to run again.

Lane’s first order of business is to pick up all of his road signs, then he will analyze the election results to see whether enough progress has been made to warrant running again, he said.

“I think we have the support to get me elected,” Lane said. “I just don’t know what to do to get those people out to vote.”

Lane said he isn’t sure of the extent of his future involvement with the school board, but he knows he’ll still participate in the community.

“It’s in my blood,” Lane said.

Challenger Martina Pounds, a real estate agent with two children in the school district, ran for the first time. She said she wasn’t surprised by the results because she knew Headley and DeSpain would be tough to beat.

Pounds said she will probably run again next year, given that she has a whole year to learn and prepare.

“My view on issues won’t change, but there were a lot of things that I just didn’t know this year,” she said. “That will definitely change next year.”

Arch Brooks, running for school board for the second time, also lost the mayoral election. Brooks’ school board platform included advancing technology and decreasing administration. He could not be reached for comment.

The winners will begin their terms at the board meeting next Monday night.

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