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updated: 4/9/2013 11:38 PM

Lone incumbent, 3 others win Dist. 3 seats

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By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

The race for the Fox River Grove Elementary District 3 school board was wide open, with just one incumbent and a group of four challengers seeking four open seats.

But when they take their places next month, it will feel like old home week, says the incumbent, Stephen Pickering, who retained his seat by earning 22 percent of the vote.

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Pickering will be joined by newcomers Patrick Riley, Timothy Hatfield and Patrick Wall.

"They all have been active in the community," Pickering said of his challengers. "They're all people who have volunteered and contributed, so I expect they will hit the ground running."

Pickering has been on the board for two years. He works as a software support analyst and is in his sixth year of volunteering as the director of school plays in District 3.

While he is committed to keeping the school district's budget balanced and building its reserve fund, Pickering said he is particularly interested in reaching out to residents who don't have children in the schools for their input on board decisions.

With all precincts reporting, Riley also earned 22 percent of the vote to lead the challengers. He works in sales, and during the campaign he pointed to his four years as president of the Fox River Grove Recreation Council as credible leadership experience to bring to the board.

On the council, Riley worked with the village, the school board, community groups and residents while managing programs and maintaining healthy finances.

Timothy Hatfield, a retiring Elgin Area School District U-46 teacher who earned 19.2 percent of the vote, said he hopes to bring a unique perspective to the board with his 32 years in teaching.

"I have a good perspective of what goes on inside the school, so I think that will help," said Hatfield, who is retiring this year from Canton Middle School in Streamwood after having spent the first part of his career at Larkin High School in Elgin.

Hatfield added that he knows he will have to work to get up to speed on school board issues, but overall he believes District 3 is on the right track, pointing to good student test scores and the district's secure finances.

Patrick Wall, an attorney, earned 19 percent of the vote and the fourth school board seat. Going into the election, he said his legal background and business history will make him a good addition to the school board.

"Our schools are highly rated, and I want to continue that tradition," Wall said Tuesday night. One of his goals is to make sure students have a solid range of elective course offerings so they get more than the Common Core curriculum. He suggested classes on technology, coding and business.

Michael Olencheck, a mechanic and firefighter, failed to win a seat after earning 17.6 percent of the vote.

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