Incumbents re-elected in Hawthorn District 73

  • Robin Cleek

    Robin Cleek

  • George Fievet

    George Fievet

  • Joel Finfer

    Joel Finfer

  • Sonali Patil

    Sonali Patil

Daily Herald report
Updated 4/2/2019 11:44 PM

The three incumbents running for re-election in Hawthorn District 73 were returned to the school board in Tuesday's election.

One newcomer will join them as four, 4-year seats were up for election with six candidates running.


With all precincts reporting, unofficial results showed incumbents Robin Cleek and Sonali Patil leading the pack with 1,480 and 1.163 votes, respectively. Retiree Joel Finfer, who served on the Stevenson High School board for 11 years ending in 2002, held the third spot with 1,114 votes. He was followed in fourth by incumbent George Fievet with 1,017 votes.

Candidates Michael Murphy, an IT consultant, and Lenny Nieves, a field director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, who were seeking their first elected offices, were fifth and sixth with 820 and 742 votes.

Provisional ballots and late-arriving mail-in ballots are not included.

Patil, the school board president, and Cleek are seeking second terms. Fievet was recently appointed to fill a vacancy.

Incumbent Victoria Helander-Heiser, who ran unopposed for a two-year term, netted 1,438 votes.

"I would hope it's a reflection of the fact we're doing a good job of moving the district in the right direction," Cleek said.

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The school board will be dealing with a districtwide building program, continued scrutiny to find budget cuts or revenue sources and a new superintendent who starts July 1.

"The continuity will be huge," according to Cleek. "There's a lot of strength to build on there."

Voters in the Vernon Hills-based district in November approved borrowing $48.7 million for new and renovated school buildings. Work is proceeding on the first project, construction of an $11.2 million kindergarten building adjoining the Vernon Hills Park District's Sullivan Center, across Aspen Drive from the district's south campus of schools.

But voters rejected a tax hike to maintain and operate the buildings, a sign they want officials to find the money elsewhere. The school board already has cut nearly $1.1 million from its operations budget for 2019-20.

The board eliminated eight school office clerk jobs, 14 teacher assistant positions and one maintenance job and cut custodial contract services and supply purchases.

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