Among the many newly elected officials who soon will take their oaths of office, a school board member in Libertyville Elementary District 70 followed a more circuitous route.
That didn't mean the campaign was hard-fought or bitter. With four seats up for contest and only three declared candidates, Luke Stowe decided to satisfy a long-held interest in local government and run as a write-in candidate. Assured a victory, the 36-year-old web communications coordinator for the city of Evanston coasted after 20 voters penciled him in.
"It's funny it's only 20," votes, Stowe said. "I had about 50 people tell me they voted for me."
On Monday, he'll join fellow newcomer Wendy Schilling and returning members Julie Damenti and Thomas Vickers on the school board, his first experience with public office. And Stowe isn't the board member to make that claim. Chris Kennedy took a seat with 95 write-in votes in 2007 and was elected to a second term in 2011 as one of three candidates running for three seats.
"I've always been interested in some local public service, and this seemed like a good opportunity," said Stowe, who has lived in Libertyville for nine years. "I am not a District 70 graduate. It seemed like there was a need for someone to step up and fill that fourth spot."
However, the tech professional is familiar with board rooms. In July 2010, he and his friend Jim Moran launched an online petition drive and addressed the Libertyville village board to broadcast its meetings as a way to improve government transparency. Both audio- and videotaping eventually were put into practice, and the sessions are available on the village website.
Running as an advocate of open government, Moran was elected to the village board in 2011.
"It was great to be able to vote for him," Moran said of Stowe. "He's very technologically savvy. He's worked in government, I think, his whole professional career.
"The insight he'll bring to District 70" will be valuable, Moran added.
Stowe, a self-described tech geek, said District 70 is doing a good job in that regard but he wants to make sure the district keeps up with emerging trends. The district also does well with transparency, he said, but he thinks there is room for improvement.
Stowe said he has been involved in activities at St. Joseph Catholic School, where his son will enter first grade, and had not strongly considered a run in District 70 as of late last year. But the shooting in Newtown, Conn., moved him in that direction, he said. Security and disaster preparedness will be among his interests as a board member.
A strong District 70 equals a strong Libertyville, he added, but the balance will be in getting the highest educational performance while being responsible to taxpayers.