By AMY LINDBLOM
Come Jan. 1, 2003, Tuolumne County will have a new school superintendent.
Joe Silva, who has led the Sonora Elementary School District for the last three years, beat one-term incumbent Dan White by 1,081 votes in Tuesdays election.
Silva called his win a tremendous team effort. White said he was disappointed by his defeat but will move on. Both candidates said they ran upbeat campaigns and avoided making negative comments about each other.
I want to acknowledge Dans campaign, but I credit my strong campaign team that got the message out to the voters, Silva said Tuesday night as he was driving home from a party at a supporters home. The voters heard that school districts want more cooperation with the county office of education.
Among those endorsing Silva were former county schools superintendent Orville Millhollin, six current school district superintendents and 28 current school district trustees all representing districts that have opposed unifying most of the county school districts into one large district.
Neither Silva nor White would call Tuesdays election results a statement on the unification issue. But most of Silvas supporters oppose unification, while some of Whites supporters favor the controversial measure.
Among Whites strongest backers were Max Carlson and his mother, Cathy Stone-Carlson. Max Carlson authored a 1999 petition to unify seven elementary school districts with Sonora High School. His mother was the chief petitioner because at that time her son was 17 and too young to legally participate in the process.
They were among about 20 supporters at Whites Columbia home to monitor votes as they came in Tuesday night. White said he and his wife told his supporters to go home before the final results were tabulated when it became clear he would not be re-elected.
From the beginning when absentee ballots were counted and announced, White trailed Silva. In the end Silva had 54 percent of the votes to Whites 46 percent.
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