Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Urban schools: Newcomer ousts incumbent, snags Newport board seat

By Karen Gutierrez
Enquirer staff writer

A third-year law student pulled off a surprise win in the race for Newport School Board, one of two urban districts in Northern Kentucky that had drawn many candidates.

Andrea Janovic, a newcomer to politics and the city of Newport, was the third-highest vote-getter, beating out incumbent Steve Duve and challengers Bob Yoder and Rob Rummel for a board seat.

"Oh my gosh, you're kidding!" Janovic said Tuesday night.

With 11 of 12 precincts reporting, she had 1,483 votes to 2,513 for incumbent Jim Hesch and 2,435 for board Chairman Tete Turner.

Challenger Bob Yoder was the fourth-highest vote getter, falling 124 votes behind Janovic.

"I've sort of kept my ear to the drumbeat here in Newport," Janovic said. "I heard a lot of people saying they wanted some new blood, and I heard a lot of people saying they wanted a woman.

"I gave them an option."

Janovic is a law student at Northern Kentucky University who moved to Newport from Ohio four years ago because of its up-and-coming status.

As a board member, "I want to work with the superintendent and principals to make sure curriculum is tailored to train the students to think critically, to be decision-makers, and to help them to advance in their test scores," Janovic said.

Her daughter attends St. Therese School in Southgate. During the campaign, other candidates had emphasized their personal connections to Newport schools.

Hesch and Turner are products of the Newport school system. Hesch has children at Newport High and is a long-time volunteer. Turner has been on the board for 26 years.

Yoder has a toddler who he says will attend Newport schools. But Yoder's campaign was dogged by anonymous fliers distributed around Newport that labeled him, among other things, as a "gay activist."

Yoder said he is not gay, but he did speak out against hate mail sent to a gay bar in Newport this year. He is also known for attending School Board meetings and pressing the board to be more open with the public.

In the Covington Independent School District, voters re-elected Col Owens, Glenda Huff and Rita Wilson. The outcome is a sign of support for Superintendent Jack Moreland, whom the board hired in 2000 to turn around the struggling system.

Moreland has rankled a few parents and staff with a leadership style that can be heavy-handed. But test scores are slowly improving at the district's six elementaries, and Ninth District school made so much progress this year that it was honored by the city of Covington.

The two challengers in Covington were Jerry Sammons, a parent who has been president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Holmes High School, and Patrick Lance, a construction administrator active in Covington politics.


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