Come January, 15-year-old students at Henry Sibley High School won’t be the only freshmen in the district.
Voters in West St. Paul, Mendota Heights and Eagan elected three first-time members to the District 197 school board, while the sole incumbent candidate on the ballot collected the fewest votes.
Levine, Klein and Chandler
Stephanie Levine earned the highest total of the four candidates with 1,382 votes; Matthew Klein followed with 1,264 and John Chandler earned 1,159.
Incumbent Dewayne Dill was edged out in the elect-three setup with 1,068 votes.
For Levine, the election results were a satisfying end to a rigorous campaign process.
“I had been receiving a lot of positive feedback from people, so I was feeling pretty comfortable,” Levine said.
Levine added she had great faith in her fellow candidates and would have been confident in the board’s ability whether she won or lost.
“That’s a really good feeling to have,” she said.
Chandler echoed Levine’s assessment, saying the 2013 election yielded a strong class of candidates.
“I think all of us ran very collegial campaigns and have a lot of respect for each other and for the board we’re about to join,” Chandler said.
Chandler, who ran unsuccessfully for school board in 2011, said he’s pleased with the win but knew he could handle a second loss as well.
“I was prepared either way,” Chandler said.
Both Levine and Chandler praised Dill for his contributions during his time on the board.
“It’s unfortunate that all four of us couldn’t have served together,” Levine said, adding that she looked forward to receiving advice from Dill as she prepares for her new role. Dill will be joined by outgoing board members Pat Barnum and David Koziol, who declined to seek re-election.
Growth a priority
Looking ahead, Levine said one of the biggest challenges that she and fellow board members will face is the implications of a recent demographers’ report that projects greater growth within the district that previously expected, meaning the district will need to come up with a new plan to address the anticipated shortage of classroom space—a fact Levine said she considers both daunting and exciting.
“This is a good time to be on the school board,” she said.
Chandler also said he was excited for the work ahead, but added in the short term there’s one more thing in which all the candidates can find solidarity: “I think we’re all relieved the campaign is over,” Chandler said.