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story.lead_photo.caption Leas

Brent Leas won a second term on the Bentonville School Board on Tuesday, holding off challenger Amy Gillespie in what was a hotly contested race.

Leas received 510 votes (72 percent) to Gillespie's 200 votes (28 percent), according to unofficial results from the Benton County Election Commission.

Other results

Results of other school board races in Benton and Washington counties Tuesday, according to unofficial results:

Gravette

• Position 1, five years: Jay Oliphant* 122 (51 percent), James H. Brown Jr. 116 (49 percent)

• Position 2, five years: Jodi Moore 152 (65 percent), Raegena Davis 81 (35 percent)

Farmington

• Position 5, five years: Doug Williams* 146 (68 percent), Mindy Grusing 70 (32 percent)

Lincoln

• Zone 3, five years: Kendra Moore 35 (61 percent), Richard Watson 22 (39 percent)

Prairie Grove

• Position 1, five years: Whitney Woods Bryant 128 (61 percent), Mark Beaver* 83 (39 percent)

Siloam Springs

• Zone 2, four years unexpired: Connie Matchell* 25 (54 percent), Brad Edwards 21 (46 percent)

*denotes incumbent

Source: Staff report

Leas, who joined the board after running unopposed in 2012, earned another five-year term. He represents the board's Zone 2, which covers east Bella Vista.

"I'm very proud to continue serving the constituents of Bentonville School District," Leas said.

He said he was pleasantly surprised by his margin of victory.

"I attribute it to the voters knowing I was the man that would continue to be the right voice for our kids and be an advocate for our students and teachers and administrators," he said.

Gillespie could not be reached for comment.

Leas, 47, is a manager at Arvest Wealth Management Solutions Center. He's lived in Bella Vista for 22 years. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children, two of whom graduated from Bentonville High School. Their third child is enrolled at Cooper Elementary School.

Leas was part of two successful millage campaigns during his first term. The first was a 2.9-mill tax increase in 2013 that made construction of West High School possible. The second was a 1.9-mill increase that passed this spring, providing money for construction of four schools over the next five years.

Gillespie, 38, ran largely on the pledge she would better represent Bella Vista's interests. She and her husband, Michael, have two children at Cooper Elementary. She runs a business out of her home making accessories for children.

Gillespie has attended nearly every board meeting since April 2015. She reports on what happens at the meetings to her followers on social media.

The two candidates combined to raise more than $8,000 for their campaigns, according to preliminary finance reports filed last week. Leas reported raising more cash, while Gillespie reported more in non-monetary donations.

The candidates' lists of contributors hinted at their political differences. Leas received $200 from Conservative Arkansas; Gillespie received $500 from Progressive Arkansas Women. Both are political action committees. School board seats in Arkansas are volunteer, nonpartisan positions.

Leas received endorsements from several prominent figures, including Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin and Michael Poore, the former Bentonville superintendent who now leads Little Rock schools.

NW News on 09/20/2017

Print Headline: Leas wins in landslide over Bentonville School Board challenger

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