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updated: 4/6/2011 5:11 PM

Newcomer Prusnick leads D54 race

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  • Mary Kay Prusnick

    Mary Kay Prusnick

  • William Harper

    William Harper

  • Barbara Hengels

    Barbara Hengels


Newcomer Mary Kay Prusnick led all candidates on Tuesday night and will join the two incumbents who also were running for the Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 school board.

The three winners nearly split the vote, according to unofficial results from Cook County. Prusnick earned 6,331 votes, or 28.2 percent of the vote; William Harper recorded 5,882 votes, or 26.2 percent; and Barbara Hengels had 5,749 votes, or 25.6 percent. The three seats come with 4-year terms.

Thomas Manzardo placed fourth, with 4,464 votes, or 19.9 percent of the vote.

Prusnick, 39, is a stay-at-home mother originally from Cleveland. She lives in Hanover Park and has been active on a variety of District 54 groups. She said she's been waiting about five years for her children to get older, giving her the right opportunity to run.

"I'm thrilled with all the support and I'm going to work very hard," she said.

Hengels, 60, is a Chicago native and lives in Elk Grove Village. She was appointed to the board in 1997 and this will be her fourth full term with District 54.

She said on Wednesday that she wasn't surprised that Prusnick drew more votes than the incumbents, adding that's happened in the last couple of elections. She said Prusnick spent money on her website and connected with voters via the Internet. As for her re-election, Hengels said voters appreciated her "pertinent questions" to district officials and that she is fiscally conservative.

One controversial decision the board made recently was cutting more than 100 jobs. District officials said it was more due to scheduling issues and declining enrollment than money issues. Hengels said the board took action in the best interests of the students and the district.

"And a lot of those positions, depending on state and federal money, the people will be rehired and the programs will continue," she said.

Hengels said she wasn't sure what impact the cuts may have had on the election, as the staff unions in District 54 did not openly endorse any candidates. Prusnick said based on the success of the incumbents, she didn't think the cuts had much of an effect on voting.

Harper, 55, a Chicago native who resides in Schaumburg, couldn't be reached Wednesday. He's a Realtor and joined the board in 2001.

District 54 is comprised of 27 schools with 14,231 students enrolled. The district serves parts of Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Roselle and Schaumburg.