The empty spot on the Paradise school board has finally been filled.
Voters chose Ben Sanders for Place 6 in a second election held Tuesday after the first election Nov. 5 ended in a tie.
In last week’s election, Sanders garnered a total 120 votes to Bill Mundy’s 34. Of those 120, 50 came via early voting. Nearly half of Mundy’s were early votes as well.
While he clinched the second election soundly, it was a pivotal mail-in ballot that gave Sanders a second chance by tying the first race. Without that, Mundy would have won by a single vote.
Wise County Elections Administrator Lanny Noble said it was the first election-day tie he has seen during his tenure in Wise County.
“On election night there was the one vote and it was timely,” Noble said.
With 154 ballots cast, the turnout for the second election was higher than many had expected.
“I was somewhat surprised because of the weather,” Noble said. “It was bad and they still came out. It is good they care enough to voice their opinion.”
Sanders, 39, of Cottondale, works in the oilfield maintaining natural gas pipelines. He has two sons, ages 15 and 5, attending PISD.
“My family is excited,” Sanders said. “I’ve had a bunch of people tell me I’m crazy and that I’m jumping into a hornet’s nest, but I don’t feel that way.”
Sanders described himself as easygoing, a good listener with strong opinions and backbone. He said he is not scared by a challenge and noted that joining the school board was on his “bucket list” of things he wanted to do.
“I have things and goals that I need to accomplish,” he said. “I don’t like to just talk. I like to be a part of whatever I can. I’ve coached and refereed and everything else for 15 years and now I’m on the school board.”
Sanders said he hasn’t been fully briefed on all the issues facing PISD, including an ailing wastewater facility, leaking roof, and little money to throw at the problems. However, he plans on digging in with the rest of the board to find solutions.