Endorsement: Jacobs, Casey and Dickson for Antioch High School District 117

This endorsement is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board.

Like their elementary school district peers in Antioch, it's been a trying two years for members of the Antioch Community High School District 117 board of education. From public conflict over COVID-19 mitigations to its failed attempt to please both sides of the heated debate over the controversial book "Gender Queer" - a compromise that satisfied nether - board members have faced harsh criticism from some in the community.

That rancor might explain the large number of candidates running in District 117, where eight hopefuls are seeking three, four-year terms April 4. The field includes incumbents Sandy Jacobs and Ellen Ipsen, District 34 board member Mechelle Casey, former District 117 board member Phillip Delaney and newcomers Julianne Hettich, Linda Carroll, Sue Dickson and Rebecca Galvez.

Hettich, Carroll and Galvez did not attend an interview session with a representative of our editorial board or return a candidate questionnaire. So, while we would have liked to have considered their candidacies, we do not have enough information to do so.

The good news for voters is the other five candidates are all qualified and worthy of consideration.

For us, Jacobs stands out. A middle school teacher who's served more than two decades on the board, her passion for education and students' well-being is obvious, as is her grasp on the challenges of the district.

Casey also is a strong candidate. While she appropriately says her primary focus as a board member would be the academic success and well-being of students, she also hopes to bring greater attention to the lack of diversity within the district's teaching and administrative ranks. Representation matters, and less than 5.5% of the district's teachers are Black, Hispanic or Asian, compared with more than 21% of its students.

Our third choice is Dickson. While Delaney and Ipsen have an edge in experience, Dickson's thoughts about innovative approaches to education, her embrace of transparency and public engagement, and her focus on unifying the community won us over.

We endorse Jacobs, Casey and Dickson.

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