Citing family health concerns, Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education member Jeff Redford informally withdrew Thursday morning from contested school board and State Fair Community College races in the April 3 municipal elections.
Redford, who has served a total of seven years on the school board, was flanked by Sedalia 200 Superintendent Harriet Wolfe and SFCC President Marsha Drennon at the school board office.
Redford told members of the media and education officials that medical test results received last week indicated that his wife, Lillian, has brain cancer.
“As a result, I am not able to serve,” Redford said.
He said his wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, but “aggressive medical treatment” then had allowed the family “to live a pretty normal life” despite the diagnosis. However, a recent imaging test has turned up “a whole new area of cancer” in her brain, he said.
Redford filed for re-election in December in a three-way race for two school board seats, and would have faced current board member Dr. Jeff Sharp and challenger Stephanie Lefevers in April.
Sharp and Lefevers both expressed their regret at the news Thursday afternoon. Sharp, who has served with Redford, said he will “miss his presence on the board.”
“I think all our prayers should be with his family. He has been a very good board member, and it is a tragedy that he has had to pull out because of illness in his family,” Sharp said.
Lefevers echoed Sharp’s sentiment, saying: “My family and I would like to extend our sincere and heartfelt prayers of healing, strength and peace for the Redford family. This is, truly, an unfortunate circumstance that has touched the hearts of many in the community, including our own.”
In mid-January, Redford also filed for a seat on the SFCC board of trustees — again a three-way election for two seats — and would have faced incumbent Judy Parkhurst and challenger Patricia Wood.
Parkhurst told the Democrat she was sorry to hear the news and wished Redford and his family the best.
“I am so sorry that this is happening and that his wife has to experience this. My prayers are with him and his family,” Parkhurst said.
Wood could not be reached for comment.
Noting the cost of reprinting ballots with less than three weeks before the election, Redford said he would not seek to have a judge formally remove him from the ballot; rather, he offered his full endorsement to remaining candidates in both races and encouraged voters to support them in the upcoming election.
The remaining candidates “will be an asset to the college or board of education,” Redford said.
Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada told the Democrat the April 3 election costs now stand at about $45,000.
Were Redford to formally withdraw from the race, neither the school board nor the board of trustees would have to appear on new ballots, as the number of remaining candidates equals the number of seats available for each board.
La Strada said election costs, including reprinting ballots, would increase by about $16,000, and that amount would have to be shouldered by remaining entities such as the City of Sedalia, and supporters of the ambulance and tourism tax proposals.
La Strada said the issue also would be complicated, as at least 65 voters already have cast absentee ballots in person at the clerk’s office, and 100 ballots, including those of military personnel, have been mailed.
In the event that Redford wins one or both of the contests, Redford said he would decline the office. In that case, school board or trustee members would appoint someone to a one-year term.
Drennon and Wolfe both indicated that the most likely appointees would be one of the other candidates from April’s contest.