BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison School district voters have brought two incumbents back onto the board and elected one newcomer to take a seat on the board.
Results of Tuesday’s school election show incumbent Tim Wondra won with the highest number of votes at 357, followed by first-time candidate Jillian Troxel with 327, and current board member Gayla Young with 315. Young was a mere 11 votes ahead of Renee Ehlers who was seeking her first seat on the board. Gunther Anderson finished with 241 votes and Brad Menke finished with 210.
Lee County also overwhelmingly voted in favor of the 6-cent instructional support levy for Southeastern Community College 729-227. The Fort Madison district broke in favor of the measure 345 to 137.
Wondra, who’s served as vice president for the past two years, said he was a bit nervous going into election night.
“I’m extremely happy and excited,” Wondra said. “I was pretty nervous this time. We had some good candidates running. I felt the district would be in good hands with whomever won. I’m just glad I was one of them.”
Wondra said with current board president Timm Lamb not seeking re-election he would be open to a nomination for the President’s chair.
“Yeah, it’s one of those things of being the most senior member and I would look at it as my duty. Timm is leaving some very big shoes to fill and we’ll have to do a damn good job to fill ’em,” he said.
Wondra said the turnout was similar to the last election, but he would have liked to see more people cast a ballot.
“This is our children’s future and we can only get 400 or so to come out and vote in a district this size?,” he said.
Young said she too felt very comfortable with the group of candidates.
“No matter what happened, we had some very qualified candidates. If I didn’t win the sun would still come up tomorrow, but I’m still very passionate about how we move Fort Madison School District to be a district that people want to come to,” Young said.
She said she still thinks facilities are a top priority and wants to continue working to find a safe and secure building for the staff and students.
“We can’t bury our head in the sand. These buildings are not fine. Whether that mean renovations or building we need to go back to the drawing board and see what the people want. We have fantastic leadership and we need to continue to build on that,” Young said.
She said the Chapter 20 changes could drive a wedge in some districts between the board and the staff and she doesn’t want to see that happen.
“We can work together and find a compromise that everyone is happy with and be able to keep our staff from the most tenured teacher to the newest food service worker.”
Troxel said she was thankful to have the opportunity to serve on the board and is hoping to learn from the board as she gets acclimated with the position.
“I’m just very thankful to have the opportunity to serve the families of our community,” Troxel said. “I can’t speak highly enough of all the candidates on the ballot. This was a very close race and I learned insightful things at that forum last week. I left there feeling very confident that anyone at that table would have made a great board member.”
She said the voter turnout was a bit disappointing and was hoping the bond elections would generate a higher interest level in the board elections.
“I hope as a board we can continue to work with the community and improve on those numbers. But I just look forward to collaborating with the current board members,” Troxel said.
Ehlers said she was happy with how close the vote was and she was going to keep advocating for the children of the district. Ehlers is the current president of the Lincoln Parent Teacher Group and led the Kid’s Committee on the last two bond referendums.
“I couldn’t have lost to three better people, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and working hard for the kids in this district,” Ehlers said.
“Those referendums losses were way tougher to swallow than this. But you can’t give up. You have to keep advocating.”
Troxel will be sworn in at the Sept. 25 board meeting and new officers will be nominated and voted on at that meeting as well.