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After eight years, underdog takes Hart seat

Messina wins due to lack of competition

Posted: November 4, 2009 10:01 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Joe Messina refreshes the voting result Web site on Tuesday at Roast House. Messina was elected to the Hart district board after four unsuccessful tries.

It took five runs, but on Tuesday night, Joe Messina finally got what he was looking for: a seat on the Hart district board.

"Messina, who first ran for a seat on the board in 2001, said he credits his win not to a new campaign strategy, but to timing and a race that had only one incumbent.

“Nothing really changed other than there were two open seats,” he said Wednesday. “It is almost impossible to unseat an incumbent.”

Paul Strickland was the only incumbent in the race as board members Dennis King and Patricia Hanrion did not seek re-elections.

Along with Messina, Strickland was re-elected to a third term on the William S. Hart Union High School District board, with Bob Jensen, who is finishing his first term on the Newhall School District board.

Jensen led Tuesday’s race with 7,665 votes compared to Strickland’s 7,281, a difference of 384 votes, county figures show.

“I feel like my hard work paid off,” Jensen said.

Jensen credits his strong turnout to his passion and interest in public education and its role in the Santa Clarita Valley.

He also said he set out to run his own race and try to connect to as many people in the Santa Clarita Valley as he could.

A gap of 250 votes marked the difference between Messina’s victory and Suzan Solomon’s loss, county registrar figures show.

Linda Valdes came in last with 4,288 votes.

Throughout the race, Messina said he was consistent in his priorities and goals both in and out of election years.

While Messina has remained an advocate for building a much-needed high school in Castaic, he has been focused on establishing a career-technical or vocational career path for the Hart district’s junior high and high school students, he said.

Another priority involves working with a board he has been critical of in the past.

“I think I’ve got to show the board that I’m willing to be a team player,” he said.

Jensen hopes to continue his passion and interest in public education.

“I’m looking forward to just furthering public education and making it even better in our valley,” Jensen said.


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