The winners in the race for seats on the Stevenson High School District 125 board say they learned a few things during the heated campaign -- particularly that they need to improve communications with the community.
And with a virtual tip of their hats to their political rivals, they're promising to do just that.
"We will pledge to do a better job there," said board President Bruce Lubin, who was among the four victors in Tuesday's District 125 election.
Lubin and fellow incumbents Terry Moons and Merv Roberts won seats on the Lincolnshire-based board, as did political ally and newcomer David Weisberg. They defeated challengers Kim Brady, Charles Cardella and Kathy Powell, who ran as a slate critical of the sitting board's management.
The race was one of the more contentious political battles in Lake County this season, with candidates on both sides -- and their supporters -- taking swings at each other over issues such as the district's finances, curriculum and cultural diversity.
During the campaign, Cardella, Brady and Powell repeatedly said the school should hold regular town hall-style meetings at which community members could talk with board members, administrators and department heads about various concerns.
After the votes were counted on Election Night, Lubin acknowledged the challengers were right about the need to communicate more with residents.
Weisberg heartily agreed. When introducing himself to potential voters during the campaign, Weisberg said he met a lot of people who were interested in what happens at Stevenson.
He said he enjoyed participating in a teleconference town hall meeting he and his allies held a few days before the election. The board should consider holding similar meetings in the future, Weisberg added.
"It was an easy way to connect with a lot of people and hear what they have to say," he said. "There's no reason not to do it."
And if actual town hall meetings can get more people involved in school matters, Weisberg said he supports them.
"Who wouldn't want that?" he said. "I think it's the right thing to do."
Although stung by his team's loss, Cardella was happy to hear Lubin and others admit the board needs to listen to the public more.
Cardella, who has been among the residents critical of certain books on Stevenson reading lists, said trying to talk to the school board about that or other issues is like talking to a "glass wall."
Improving communication with the public is "only going to help Stevenson," he said.
Cardella was especially pleased to hear some of his former foes voice support for the town-hall proposal. Such meetings, he said, are "the start of a dialogue."
Not all the winning candidates are gung-ho about launching town hall meetings. Roberts agreed communication with the public should be improved, but previous attempts -- such as daily e-mail news reports and other digital efforts -- haven't always been as fruitful as desired.
Roberts suggested meeting with community members about an issue first, perhaps in focus groups or by creating a task force.
"I'm not ready to say we should do this, this and this," he said.
Even so, Roberts knows communication with the public needs to improve.
"The community wants it," he said. "We want it."