Four York Suburban school board candidates were successful at the polls Tuesday by joining forces, a strategy that worked in their favor.

The women, Emily Bates, Lynne Leopold-Sharp, Ellen Freireich and Cathy Shaffer, ran on one platform as the ELECT team and each earned enough votes to take their seats as a team, too.

Shaffer, who led the group at the polls with 3,925 votes, said the four women decided to run together after the primary race in May. The team, plus their families and supporters, were together Tuesday night as the votes were tallied.

In a phone interview, Shaffer held the phone out to capture a resounding cheer from the group as the first votes started coming in.

"This is a huge celebration here tonight," she said.

Shaffer said she hopes to continue to keep the school district strong by balancing community needs and budget constraints with student needs.

Leopold-Sharp echoed Shaffer, and said the philosophy of balancing financial and student needs was not something she saw offered by their challengers. Leopold-Sharp added she hopes to continue to make fact-based decisions for the good of the district.

The incumbent board director, now entering her sixth term with 2,995 votes, said the ELECT team has very different opinions on many subjects, but joined forces to maintain the philosophy of balancing the budget.

Leopold-Sharp said this is "absolutely" her last term, and hopes the energized race during this election season will encourage other community members to get involved at school board meetings and future elections.


Freireich was the only member to gain a spot as the challenger: The other three winning candidates were incumbents. Freireich is not new to the school board, however. She served for 16 years on the board, lost in the last election two years ago and is back again.

Freireich said she has continued to stay current on board issues, and is ready to reclaim a seat. Freireich received 3,807 votes, just behind Shaffer.

Freireich said the team worked together to get elected for the benefit of the board and the students.

"I think we did that in resounding fashion tonight," Freireich said.

Bates earned 3,051 votes Tuesday to finish third.

Challengers Nicholas Pandelidis and Ralph Felter received 2,233 and 2,166 votes, respectively.

--Reach Nikelle Snader at