The Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) board swore in newly elected board members Erica Halpern and Stephen Cochrane at its Dec. 14 organizational meeting. Incumbent Halpern received 44.51 percent of the vote and Cochrane edged out incumbent Darren Gretler 28.10 percent to 27.29 percent, a difference of 194 votes.
“I’m honored to be here and I feel that we have a high-quality board and team, and I look forward to being a contributor,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane, who has a Ph.D. in education and a master’s degree in special education, is an education professor and director of teacher education and credentialing. He has been an active volunteer and PTA board member at Sage Canyon Elementary School.
“I want to welcome Stephen to our leadership team and I’m confident that we’ll continue the good work of this board with his contributions,” Halpern said.
The November election was Halpern’s first as she was appointed to the board in March 2015 to replace Doug Perkins. A Del Mar Heights parent, she has a career background in finance, business and public affairs.
The race between Gretler and Cochrane was a tight one. With all the precincts reporting, the unofficial election results had Gretler with the lead at 27.95 percent to Cochrane’s 26.92 percent. At a Nov. 15 special board meeting, Gretler was even congratulated on his victory.
But as the mail ballots continued to be tallied, Cochrane took the lead and the results were finally made official Dec. 8.
The board members thanked Gretler for his dedicated service on the board since August 2015, when he was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Alan Kholos.
“I will miss his wonderfully lengthy board reports, it was very clear that he loved all of the children in the district and cared about all of them, ” Clerk Kristin Gibson said of Gretler’s attendance at multiple schools’ dads’ lunches, school carnivals and two separate math nights because he liked the first one so much. “I hope he chooses to lend his talents in some way, shape or form to public schools in the future.”
Gibson said during her term she has seen many new board members and staff and noted everyone brings valuable new skills and ideas to the organization.
“I’m really, really proud of the work that we do here and the five members have always worked really well together for the good of all children, without personal agendas,” Gibson said.
At the meeting, Doug Rafner was again elected as DMUSD board president.