BOARD OF EDUCATION
Penebacker clearly ahead for BOE seat
A former library administrator, two incumbents and three former state lawmakers led the race for the Board of Education.
John R. Penebacker was the top vote-getter, with more than four times the votes of his closest competitor for the Windward District seat. The top two in that race advance to the general election. College student Kris DeRego, 24, led incumbent Paul Vierling for the second spot, with more than half of all precincts counted.
Penebacker, 60, a member of the "Fab Five" University of Hawaii basketball teams in the 1970s and a longtime library administrator who retired last year, said he looked forward to the general election. His top goals, he said, were making schools safe for kids who want to learn, and providing "incentives and a decent salary" for public school teachers.
"My idea is to have school-within-a-school, to get the most disruptive kids out of the regular class so the kids who do want to be in that learning environment" get a good education, he said.
DeRego said he was grateful for the voters' faith, especially considering that a former employer recently went public with allegations of theft against him. "Obviously, Mr. Penebacker is an incredibly strong candidate, but I am very pleased with the results."
In the Oahu at-large race, former state senator and BOE member Donna R. Ikeda, 67, led the 17-candidate field, followed by incumbent Karen Knudsen, 55; ex-state legislators Terrance W.H. Tom, 58, and Brian Y. Yamane, 59; civil rights lawyer Kim Coco Iwamoto, 38; and incumbent Darwin L.D. Ching, 60. The top six vote-getters advance to compete for three seats in the general election.
The 14-member nonpartisan board oversees the Department of Education and sets policy for Hawaii's public schools.