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Cofrin wins school board seat in wards 8 through 10

Rusty Cofrin stands outside Broken Ground School, the Ward 10 polling place, on Tuesday afternoon, November 5, 2013. Cofrin was running for the Concord school board seat in Wards 8-10 against George Jack. 

(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Rusty Cofrin stands outside Broken Ground School, the Ward 10 polling place, on Tuesday afternoon, November 5, 2013. Cofrin was running for the Concord school board seat in Wards 8-10 against George Jack. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

Former teacher Rusty Cofrin handily won a seat on the Concord School Board last night, defeating opponent George Jack with 847 votes to 256.

“Obviously, I’m very happy,” Cofrin said after the results were in. “I will definitely serve with integrity (and) do the best job I can on that school board.”

This is Cofrin’s second try for a school board seat, after he was defeated in the race for an at-large seat last year. He and several volunteers were out at all three polling places yesterday, while Jack was not actively campaigning through most of the day and had no signs out. In two uncontested races, incumbent Jennifer Patterson won in wards 5 through 7 and newcomer Melissa Donovan won in wards 1 through 4. All three will serve three-year terms.

Cofrin, 54, retired five years ago after 27 years of teaching math at Concord High School, where he also coached cross country and track and field. He is a seven-year brain cancer survivor, and said he is now ready to get involved again in school affairs. As a school board member, he said his biggest challenge will be learning about the district’s budget, which the board reviews and approves each year. With his background in the district, he believes he’s well-equipped to handle issues that will come before the board.

“I have a small learning curve (on the budget), and I’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of that,” he said. “I’m ready to dive in on everything.”

This is the first year that school board members were elected to represent ward clusters rather than at-large seats. For Cofrin, who lost last year in an at-large race, he said campaigning across only three wards was much easier. He also changed several campaign tactics after losing last year, including running as Rusty rather than George Cofrin and creating bigger signs. He voted in favor of the ballot initiative two years ago to change the system from at-large to ward representation, but said he will still be attentive to concerns from Concord residents in any ward.

Cofrin’s son, Tim Cofrin, a Concord High graduate, held a sign for his father outside Broken Ground School in Ward 10 yesterday. He said the elder Cofrin’s experience with the school system made him the best candidate for the job.

“He embodies the fundamental idea of a school board member,” Tim Cofrin said.

Jack, for his part, ran on his role as an outsider without direct experience in the schools. He has a third-grade daughter at Mill Brook School and decided to run for school board as a way to be more involved in her education. He could not be reached for comment last night.

Cofrin and Donovan will begin their terms on the school board in January, when members Tara Reardon and Bill Glahn leave the board.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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