Becker, Peters on top in School Board race

Both candidates were supporters of new school

Posted: Wednesday, October 06, 2004

While Mary Becker and Bill Peters watched enough votes posted Tuesday night to seat them on the Juneau School Board, they had the feeling they were winning twice.

"I am so excited I'm going to be on this School Board and we're finally going to build the new school," said Becker, a retired educator, after both she and the proposition authorizing construction of the Dimond Park high school finished on top.

The final unofficial results showed Becker with 4,513 votes, returning her to the board for a third three-year term.

Peters, an executive at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, last year ended up finishing only four votes away from a School Board seat on his first attempt at the office. Tuesday he said he was "incredibly happy" to see the high school question pass while collecting 3,594 votes in his own name.

With three candidates running for two board seats, his second-place finish earned him a spot on the board.

"Daddy, did you get in?" his son Earl asked after the final votes were posted.

"I'm in," Peters said, before hugging members of his family.

The other candidate, Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority grant writer and planner LaVonne Garvey, finished with 2,763 votes.

Reached later in the evening, she said she was "ecstatic" about the Mendenhall Valley high school proposition passing. While she didn't win a seat, she said she wanted to thank everyone who supported her.

"I will probably run again in the future," she said. This time around, she believes Juneau wasn't ready for the alternative she presented.

"I'm a very innovative, out-of-the-box thinker," she said.

Peters said he has three children in the district and has wanted to be involved as an active voice in the district for a long time.

He said he learned a lot from his first school board campaign a year ago when 12 people were running for five seats.

"I consider it a vote of confidence," Becker said, noting support for her, the only board incumbent in the race, and the project which the board had strongly endorsed.

"The new school is not the only issue," Becker said. "Our funding is not adequate."

Becker said she wants to work at reducing the district's dropout rate, which she considers too high.

"I'm very concerned if a student does not get a diploma," she said. "Our class sizes in certain areas are way too high."

Becker said she wants to work for funding from the Alaska Legislature to bring the district the money needed to provide better student opportunities.

Alan Schorr, the other incumbent whose term is expiring, did not run for another term.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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