HANCOCK COUNTY — Those elected to contested school board races Tuesday say they plan to focus on continuing the excellence in their respective districts.
Incumbent Bill Niemier, who had been challenged by Jonathon Hooker, narrowly held onto the Southern Hancock District 2 seat; Matthew Ackerman bested Wendy Parish for the corporation’s District 1 seat, and school board newcomer Dan Brown defeated incumbent Ray Kerkhof for the at-large school board member for Greenfield-Central.
School board members serve four-year terms, establishing school policies and setting budgets. They also vote on a variety of other school-related issues, ranging from personnel matters to facility needs.
Greenfield Central Community School Corp.
Dan Brown won the at-large seat on the school board of the county’s largest school district with 5,172 votes to Ray Kerkhof’s 4,521.Brown decided to run for school board after a decade of service with the Greenfield Youth Football League. He said he will continue in his work to improve the district’s athletics and extracurriculars, saying he’d like to see the board move forward with purchasing artificial turf for the high school football field, which would benefit both the football team and the marching band.
Brown also seeks to give more freedom to teachers over their day-to-day teaching choices.
Kerkhof, elected in 2012, was one of the board members who helped to hire Superintendent Harold Olin in 2014. Though he said he was disappointed to lose his seat, he congratulated Brown.
“I’m happy I had the opportunity to serve,” he said.
Community School Corp. of Southern Hancock County
The Southern Hancock School board will look quite different. Longtime board members Barb Snyder and Tom Tucker, who did not run for re-election, will be replaced by two first-time board members who will serve four-year terms. Dan Walker ran unopposed, and the other seat went to Matthew Ackerman.Ackerman said he’s not surprised to have won the race between him and Wendy Parish, since midway through the election, Parish announced she had stopped campaigning and instead supported his bid for office.
Parish expressed surprise that she earned nearly half the votes for the position despite not campaigning.
Ackerman received 3,906 votes to Parish’s 3,687.
The other contested race in the district proved much closer. Incumbent Bill Niemier had 95 more votes than Johnathon Hooker.
Niemier had nothing but good things to say about his opponent, who was running for a seat for the first time.
“At the state and national level, politicians act like idiots, but my family made friends with the Hooker family,” Niemier said.
Hooker said he was pleased both candidates stressed the issues and didn’t attack each other.
“It stings a little bit because you don’t like to lose, but the board is in good hands,” Hooker said, adding he wouldn’t rule out a run for a school board seat in the future.
Southern Hancock School Board District 1
Southern Hancock School Board District 2
Greenfield-Central School Board, at large