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Dickerson beats Hatch for Fort Worth school board president

FORT WORTH -- Banker Ray Dickerson was elected Fort Worth school board president Saturday with 58 percent of the vote during a runoff election against Trustee Chris Hatch.

"I feel very humbled, very pleased," Dickerson said. "I appreciate everyone who got out and voted."Hatch took 42 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results released by the Tarrant County elections department.

Dickerson will start presiding over school board meetings after the votes are canvassed and he takes the oath of office. But he said he will work to improve schools starting today.

"I'm going to hit the ground running," Dickerson said. "I have a lot of homework to do."

About 2 percent of 223,566 registered voters cast ballots in the runoff election.

The school board president race went to a runoff when none of the three candidates gathered 50 percent of the vote in the May 10 general election. In that race, Dickerson took 49 percent, Hatch 43 percent and William Winnett, a sign manufacturer, 8 percent.

The president is elected at large by voters who live within the school district boundaries. Dickerson will replace Bill Koehler, who kept his pledge to serve only one term and is moving to New Mexico. Koehler endorsed Dickerson, 63, a Fort Worth bank executive.

Government transparency, improving academic performance of urban students and oversight of the $593.6 million bond program were among top issues in the election. There are about 80,000 students in the district.The candidates received high-profile endorsements. Dickerson had support from Mayor Mike Moncrief and U.S. Rep. Kay Granger.

Hatch, 61, a certified public accountant, was endorsed by well-known Republicans, including former state Rep. Anna Mowery and Bob Leonard. Leonard and Hatch were among candidates who competed for Mowery¡¦s post last fall after she retired.

Several of the voting places were somewhat quiet Saturday. At Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center only 53 people had cast ballots by 1:30 p.m. Twenty-nine voters had cast ballots at Daggett Middle and 36 at Rufino Mendoza Elementary as of 3:30 p.m. At Lily B. Clayton Elementary, 126 people cast ballots by the same time.

"As Americans, this is both our civil right and our civil duty." said Paula Perkins, 49, a voter at Lily B. Clayton. "If you don't vote, then you are choosing to let someone else pick who is going to run the government at any level."