Quinn wins Petaluma School Board seat

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Caitlin Quinn won a seat on the Petaluma School District, joining fellow teachers union-backed newcomers Mady Cloud and Joanna Paun in defeating three incumbents in official results certified Monday.

Quinn, who was trailing two-term incumbent Sheri Chlebowski by 374 votes on election day, ended up winning by 1,198 votes after the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters certified the results. The 25-year-old nonprofit communications director will become the youngest member of the school board.

Quinn said she never gave up hope that the final results would flip in her favor.

“This was the result I was hoping for,” she said. “It feels awesome. I have a lot to do to catch up now.”

Cloud, a former high school English teacher, and Paun, a guidance advisor at St. Vincent de Paul High School, have been attending board trainings since the Nov. 6 election as board members-elect. The three challengers were endorsed by the Petaluma Federation of Teachers, a powerful union that represents more than 300 teachers.

Quinn said the wave election showed voters wanted to see a change on the board.

“People were ready for a change,” she said. “It’s up to us to embody that change.”

The three newcomers join Ellen Webster and Frank Lynch on the board with little experience. Webster and Lynch were elected two years ago. Michael Baddeley, who had the most experience on the board, finished in fifth, while fellow incumbent Phoebe Ellis came in sixth.

Chlebowski, who was preparing to be the most tenured board member, said she is worried by the new board’s inexperience. The board represents 7,493 students across eight Petaluma elementary schools and 10 secondary schools and employs a staff of 878.

“I’m very concerned for the district,” she said. “The community really wanted change, but what confused me is that we were one of the best districts. We were doing a really good job.”

An attorney and mother, Chlebowski said not being on the board will give her more time to spend with her family. She said she does not plan on running for elected office in the future.

(Contact Matt Brown at matt.brown@arguscourier.com.)

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