Yan Sun, outside Hanaford Tuesday evening, had lights to illuminate her sign. Credit: EG News
After an unusually vigorous School Committee campaign, voters gave three of the four contested School Committee seats to newcomers Yan Sun (I), Michael Fain (I), and David Osborne (D). Incumbent Mary Ellen Winters (R) also won (her third term), but fellow incumbents Jack Sommer (I) and David Green (R), chair of the current committee, lost their bids for reelection.
Sun, Osborne and Fain are all members of a group of parents who came together last spring after being frustrated with the current School Committee and have collected around a Facebook group titled “East Greenwich Parents for Excellence.” The parents were motivated, according to Rebecca Bliss, an unofficial leader of the group, by frustration over what she called the current School Committee’s “lack of transparency, responsiveness, and engagement of parents.”
Among the issues they wanted the School Committee to address were later school start times at the middle and high schools and the addition of all-day kindergarten – both of which are now being explored by ad hoc committees. In addition, they have questioned the School Committee’s strategic planning process.
Sun, the top vote-getter, made a point of telling voters in public forums she would respond “to every phone call and every email.”
“The message resonated with a lot of voters,” said Fain after the votes were counted, “particularly people with school-age kids. I think it went without saying they were looking for some changes.”
“We’re just really excited. We’re really grateful,” said Osborne. “We had a lot of support, especially from parents of school-age kids and we’re looking forward to representing their interests and we’re looking forward to working together with everybody on the School Committee and with the Town Council. There’s a lot on our plate.”
Green and Sommer were elected to the School Committee in 2010, with Green taking over as chair in 2012. Newcomer Christen Meyer (R) was the third candidate that fell short in the vote totals.
Yan Sun 2,782 52%
Michael Fain 2,687 50%
Mary Ellen Winters 2,593 49%
David Osborne 2,472 46%
David Green 2,279 43%
Christen Meyer 2,095 39%
Jack Sommer 1,781 33%
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