Two incumbents, two newcomers lead in U-46 school board race
Elgin Area School District U-46 voters seemingly signaled their support Tuesday for investing in programs and students versus cutting taxes by overwhelmingly endorsing incumbents John Devereux and Sue Kerr and newcomers Eva Porter and Kathleen Thommes for 4-year school board terms from a field of eight candidates.
Unofficial vote totals with all but eight precincts in Cook, DuPage and Kane counties reporting show Kerr leading the pack with 6,672 votes, followed closely by Devereux with 6,244 votes, Porter with 6,095 votes and Thommes with 6,016 votes.
One-term incumbent Jeanette Ward -- the lone conservative voice on the school board -- garnered 4,956 votes, while her slate mates, Daniel Hancock received 4,356 votes, Tina Rio received 4,224 votes, and Ina Silva-Sobolewski secured 3,409 votes.
A philosophical divide split the candidates down the middle on key issues, including raising taxes, spending more on targeted programs for minority students to help bridge the achievement gap, funding staffing increases and investing in early childhood education, such as full-day kindergarten.
Ward, Rio, Silva-Sobolewski and Hancock, who campaigned together, were unequivocal about not raising taxes, while the Devereux, Kerr, Porter and Thommes said they would have to weigh decisions based on needs.
"I think the results tonight signal support for wise investments in programs, resources and infrastructure that can serve to advance the prospects of all U-46 students," Devereux said. "With additional public school funding from the state of Illinois, the district is well positioned to move forward without additional undue burden on local property taxes. We are prepared to acknowledge the successes of the district, yet at the same time ready to take on the challenges -- improving academic results, closing the achievement gap, addressing infrastructure, and, broadly speaking, preparing our area students for the evolving landscape of postsecondary studies and careers."
Devereux, 52, of Bartlett, is an actuary appointed to the board last June.
Kerr, 62, of Bartlett, is a retired computer programmer/analyst completing her first term, said she is hopeful of U-46's future with the district being in better financial shape now than when she was first elected.
"Now, we have more options and that's a lot of responsibility," she said. "We've got more of a direction. I think we've got good ideas."
She believes her and fellow slate members' experience and message of inclusivity resonated with voters.
Porter, 64, of Hanover Park, is a retired teacher and Thommes, 44, is an educator from Elgin.
The candidates also were split on whether teachers and school personnel should be armed, and how bullying in schools is being handled by administrators at the state's second-largest school district educating 38,764 students.
Devereux, Kerr, Porter and Thommes, part of the U-46 Forward slate, rejected the idea of arming school personnel, while Hancock, Silva-Sobolewski and Ward qualified their support as long as there is adequate training for employees.
Ward, 45, of West Chicago, is a product manager for an international chemical company. Hancock, 68, of Hanover Park, is a retired electrical engineer. Rio, 52, of Bartlett, works for the airline industry. And, Silva-Sobolewski, 56, of Hanover Park, is a Portuguese translator/interpreter.