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Gourley wins race for Sweet Home School Board

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Rich Nichols of Albany places a ballot in the drop box outside the Linn County Courthouse.

Former Sweet Home Mayor James Gourley has won reelection to the Sweet Home School Board.

Gourley came out on top in a three-way race for the at-large seat representing Zone 8. In early unofficial updated results posted Tuesday night by Linn County, Gourley received 641 votes, Elizabeth Ruck garnered 412 votes and Dale Keene got 401 votes.

Turnout was low in the Sweet Home School Board elections as just under 13% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

Janice Albert (Zone 2), Jason Van Eck (Zone 5) and Jason Redick (Zone 7) were uncontested in their respective races. Van Eck and Redick are current members of the board and were seeking reelection.

In addition, there were three races — Zone 1, Zone 3 and Zone 6 — in which no candidates filed. It is not yet known which write-in candidates received the most votes in those races, and it will have to be determined if the winning candidates are eligible and willing to fill those seats.

Gourley was pleased to win a second four-year term on the school board after previously serving the city for a total of 24 years as a city councilor and mayor.

“I’ve got a lot more things that I want to get on my plate and start working on. I think our city and our community have a lot of projects and things we can do as a school board, and I just want to be part of it,” Gourley said after the initial results were released on Tuesday.

Gourley is a retired millwright and is a strong advocate for vocational education and apprenticeships. He believes the Sweet Home School District can do more to help students prepare for their careers.

“I’m a journeyman, been a journeyman since I was 22 years old, so I know the importance of these young men and young women, before they get out of high school, knowing what they need to have as far as classes and how that relates into these apprenticeship programs that are in dire need all over the United States,” Gourley said. “These jobs are very, very good jobs. We need to be looking at how we can train a lot of our young people to step into some of those careers and career paths.”

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