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Appointments lure elected members of school board

Not all the candidates had endorsed filling the panel with individuals picked by the governor

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 2:31 a.m. HST, Nov 5, 2010

Some of the people elected Tuesday to the state Board of Education would like to be selected to the board when it becomes an appointed body.

Pamela Young, 54, a city accountant (not the television news anchorwoman), was the top vote-getter for an at-large seat. She had hoped voters would reject the proposed constitutional amendment for an appointed board.

"It looks like the voters have spoken. I can live with that," Young said.

She said she would probably want to be appointed.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment to change the school board from an elected to an appointed body -- 57.4 percent "yes" to 42.6 percent "no."

State lawmakers will still need to approve enabling legislation for an appointed board before the governor can appoint anyone.

The other two candidates to win at-large seats are incumbent Kim Coco Iwamoto, 42, a pro-bono civil rights attorney and affordable-housing property manager, and former board member Randall M.L. Yee, 51, an attorney who serves on the Charter School Review Panel.

Iwamoto said she too would like to be considered for an appointment, "if the governor-elect has been impressed with my student-focus service on the BOE" and with the overwhelming support she got from voters. She did not take a position on an elected versus appointed school board before Tuesday's election.

Yee could not be reached for comment.

Windward Oahu seat winner John R. Penebacker said he did not take a position on an elected versus appointed board because nobody asked him.

"I never even thought about it," Penebacker said.

But now that the voters have spoken, he said he would like to serve on an appointed board.

Penebacker, 64, a former University of Hawaii basketball player, has been on the school board since 2006. He was previously on the board from 1980 to 1988.

Leeward Oahu seat winner Maralyn A. Kurshals felt strongly that the board should remain an elected body. But since the voters felt otherwise, "I'd love to be appointed. I don't want to stop here. We still need people who are committed."

Kurshals, 61, is a quality assurance specialist at Leeward Family Guidance Center.

Leona Rocha-Wilson, 73, an entrepreneur and longtime education advocate, won the Maui seat. She could not be reached for comment.

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