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School Board election brings in record number of voters

BY EMILY FRIESE | SEPTEMBER 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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A record number of voters turned out at Johnson County polling places last night, voting for three School Board members for Iowa’s fifth-largest School District. Just one of the three newly elected board members will have experience.

Tuyet Dorau, Brian Kirschling, and Chris Lynch snagged the three seats; they each serve four-year terms.

Dorau, a West Side Iowa City parent is the sole incumbent of the once nine board candidates.

Tuesday’s election marks the first time Coralville resident Chris Lynch and Iowa City resident Brian Kirschling will hold a board position.

In all, 8,750 voters cast ballots over several hours Tuesday, Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said. That tentative number trumps all previously recorded numbers for School Board voter turnouts. The results are subject to change up until Sept. 13.

In the 2011 School Board election, a near-record 4,485 voters turned out to the polls, the DI previously reported. At the time, that number stood as the second highest turnout in 32 years.

“We had to run extra ballots out to numerous precincts throughout the day because they ran out,” Weipert said.

While Dorau said she was impressed by the voter turnout and thankful for everyone who participated, she said the School Board needs to get back to the basics.

“We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to support not only our faculty and staff but also our children,” she said. “I still think we need to work on our long-term facilities and that we are doing it with an open mind and mind towards sustainable growth.”

Now-former candidate Jason Lewis said moving forward, he would like to see the board focus on the children in the district.

 “I would like for us to continue serving all the kids of our district and to not go back focusing on the needs of the few who have the loudest voices,” he said.

Lewis noted that he would like to see Dorau maintain the positive, forward-moving outlook she has exhibited during the last four years on the board.

Kirschling, a University of Iowa clinical assistant professor and a staff member at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, shared his excitement in looking at addressing challenges that will affect the district for years to come.

“I want to ensure every child has a fair shot and degree for equity in the classroom to help students achieve their highest potential,” he said. “We owe it to the members of this community to focus on the health of the district.”

Lynch said he looks forward to diving into the “real work” the board needs to address.

“It’s a question of how we spend our time and energy to make sure we focus on education,” he said. “We need to deliver our goals — deliver 21st-century classrooms, become an effective board, and maximize and regulate spending within the classrooms.”

Ann Drop, a parent of four former City High students, said she wants to see a change in the School District in terms of transparency.

“You can’t expect people to be able to attend all the meetings,” she said. “I work all day and come home late. I should be able to go online and read everything when I have time … not when they’re available.”

Despite candidate Phil Hemingway being unable to secure a seat during this election, he said he will still be an advocate for the issues he has brought up to the board.

“I wish everyone the best of luck,” he said. “We are a wonderful district and a great community.”
Candidate James Tate said despite the loss, he will continue his involvement with the School Board as well.

Tuesday’s election loss signals the second time he failed to garner enough votes to secure a seat.

“[The board] can definitely see my smiling face at the School Board meetings,” he said.

West Side Iowa City parents John and Jan Hanson, who cast ballots Tuesday, said they want to see the new board continue to help the schools in the district grow through better education.

“We don’t need a revolution as much as we need to see an evolution,” John Hanson said.


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