Two incumbents, two newcomers headed to District 225 board
The race to land 4-year terms on the Glenbrook High Schools District 225 school board would have been rugged were it limited to the prospect of 10 candidates vying for four spots.
Add side stories of a student rally, a slate's petitions having been filed by a former board candidate, accusations of subpar COVID-19 response and news crew interviews on the eve of Tuesday's consolidated election, and the contest could be adapted for a television series.
In the end, after all 66 precincts had reported, unofficial results show two-thirds of the incumbents prevailed, and all four candidates endorsed by the Glenbrook Education Association collective of educators and staff.
Of the 13,646 ballots cast for those 10 candidates Tuesday night according to the Cook County Clerk's Office, Michelle Seguin received 7,613 votes, or 16.8% of the total. Current District 225 President Bruce Doughty secured a prospective third full term with 7,547 votes, 16.66%.
"A special district," Doughty called it. "I'm really honored to have the opportunity to continue serving our district," he said. "I'm looking forward to continuing our efforts to bring our students and families back toward a full sense of normalcy, with strong educational and emotional supports in place and just doing everything we can so that all of our students can flourish."
Board Vice President Peter Glowacki followed with 6,932 votes and 15.3% of the ballots cast -- despite being listed ninth on the ballot, ahead of only David Hochberg.
Attorney Matt O'Hara captured the fourth seat with 6,842 votes, 15.1% of the total as Tuesday's unofficial results were recorded by 10:12 p.m. Incumbent trustee Dr. Sonia Kim was not reelected.
"I want to thank all the folks in the community for coming out and showing what a civil and democratic process really is. I appreciate their support," Glowacki said. "Now it's time to get back to work and focus on making sure that all of our children and families have the same opportunity to a great education."
Among the foursome collectively known as TEAM Glenbrook 225, Dr. Carol Schmidt, an accomplished physician and Northwestern University medical instructor, received the largest number of votes -- 3,715, or 8.2% of the vote.
The central argument of the slate of Schmidt, Albert "Bo" Herbst, Paul Kelly and Mai Lin Noffke had been that the current board was not creative in its solutions responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a remote forum hosted by the Daily Herald, and in general, those challengers charged that the board did not make it a priority to get students back to in-person learning.
According to receipts from the Cook County Clerk's Office, the TEAM Glenbrook 225 candidates' petitions had been filed by Glenn Farkas, who in 2012 ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois State Senate, then had a subsequent bid for a District 225 board seat denied due to a procedural technicality -- not all of his petition was securely fastened.
That was not on the minds of voters in 2021. What was, however, was a more recent series of emails sent to District 225 teachers and administrators that criticized classroom discussions of topics like the storming of the U.S. Capitol in January, or teachers' and administrators' references to subjects such as Black Lives Matter.
The link between Farkas and TEAM Glenbrook 225 spurred a student-led March 30 rally to support the candidates endorsed by the Glenbrook Education Association.
Less than a week later, on Monday an ABC-TV Channel 7 news team reported statements by Glowacki and Herbst that anchored a segment noting the effect the pandemic has had on school elections.
"This whole process, now that it's over, I feel re-energized, and there's much more work we have ahead of us," Glowacki said Wednesday.
Glenview School District 34
In a close contest where each of the four candidates vying for three board seats received between approximately 22% and 28% of the 5,392 ballots cast, incumbent Katie Jones was the one left out.
The former Glenbrook North teacher had not been selected by the District 34 Caucus. She was the lone dissenter in a 6-1 vote against quickly moving to a hybrid learning platform, seeking a more aggressive approach to get the youngest learners back into school.
According to the unofficial totals, with all 33 precincts reported incumbent Diane Stefani received 3,555 votes, or 28.38% of votes cast. Newcomer James Dolan gained a seat with 3,116 votes, 24.88%. Current board President Jim Baumstark gathered 3,069 votes, 24.5%, to retain his board spot.
West Northfield School District 31
In another large field, where eight candidates sought four, 4-year terms, incumbents and Northbrook residents Laura Greenberg and Jeffrey Steres each successfully retained their seats.
Reflecting just 10 precincts and 1,137 ballots cast, Allison Slade Rothstein garnered nearly 20% of the vote, with 651 votes and 19.5% of the total. Greenberg, the district's current vice president, earned an apparent third term with 518 votes and 15.51%.
Following were newcomer Meredith Estes with 506 votes and 15.15% of the ballots; and returner Steres, with 441 votes and 13.21% of the vote.
Darrin Stern was just off the pace, receiving 408 votes and 12.22% of the vote.
In suburban Cook County there were approximately 72,500 early voters leading up to the April 6 election. Additionally, about 73,500 mail-in ballots were ordered, and some 40,000 have been sent in.
Ballots postmarked by Tuesday that arrive at election offices by April 20 will be counted, as will provisional ballots.