HANCOCK COUNTY — A couple of county school boards had contested seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s general election.

The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation Board of Trustees had three candidates vying for two seats while The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County had one open seat and two candidates.

In the Mt. Vernon school board race, eight-year incumbents Kellie Freeman and Shannon Walls worked together on their campaign as both were going for a third term while being challenged by political newcomer Josh Worth. All three have or have had children attending Mt. Vernon Schools, and it was a close contest.

In the end, Freeman captured the most votes at 3,605 and was re-elected, as was Walls who came in second with 3,412 votes while Worth was third getting 2,900 votes.

“That’s amazing,” Freeman said. “I’m so appreciative of the community to continue to support me and Shannon, and there was some issue of us running together but we did it to be fiscally responsible.”

Freeman noted Worth ran a great race and should be commented but said it’s great to know the voters want her and Walls to continue on the board

“We’re looking at all sides of issues — that’s what this board does well,” Freeman said. “We are in there for what is best for kids and we work well together and I think the community see that.”

Freeman, who is in her second term on the board, is the current president. In 2021, she was recognized as an advanced board member by the Indiana School Boards Association. Freeman ran saying if she were to be elected for a third term, some of her goals are to expand vocational learning opportunities and to be a strong voice for the school district.

Walls is the current secretary for the school board. She was recognized as an advanced board member by the Indiana School Boards Association in 2021. Walls is a founder for the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation and has served on the PTOs for McCordsville Elementary School, Mt. Vernon Middle School and Mt. Vernon High School.

“We got it done,” Walls said. “It’s rewarding and we’re so proud of the work we’ve done in the last eight years and that’s reflective in the outcome.”

Worth has worked as a firefighter and EMT for the city of Indianapolis for nine years. He is a Mt. Vernon alumnus and graduated from IUPUI in 2013. His platform goals included being a voice for conservative values, encouraging the school to be more transparent regarding the curriculum and district finances, prioritizing parents’ rights in their children’s education and engaging the community.

In the other school board race, incumbent Southern Hancock Board of Education member Jon Hooker was looking to hold onto the District 3 seat, which includes all of Sugar Creek Township. Hooker, New Palestine works for the the Central Indiana Building and Construction Trades as the Executive Director and President and was being challenged for the seat by James “Jim” A. Buist II, New Palestine.

In the end, the voters went with Hooker who outpaced Buist by a fairly large margin, capturing 3,454 votes or 72.4% of the vote. Hooker said he feels the voters confirmed he has done a good job and gave him a vote of confidence via the election.

“I think doing the work and showing up speaks volumes in the community and the election says that,” Hooker said. “I ran a good program with signs as I don’t think you could drive around town without seeing one.”

Hooker said he campaigned hard on election day and was out first thing in the morning until the last person voted.

“I told my son, who voted for the first time today, that when I went to bed I wanted to be able to lay my head on the pillow and know that I did everything I could to win,” Hooker said.

Hooker originally ran for the school board in 2016 and lost by 95 votes to incumbent Bill Niemier. Hooker was then asked to take over a seat on the board in 2020 when board member Craig Wagoner stepped down. That was the at-large seat up for grabs Hooker and Buist were going for.

Buist is a piano teacher who brought a wealth of community service experience and wanted to be a part of the school board because he felt it is important for residents to get involved. He’s also a member of the Indiana Civil Air Patrol and has been their emergency service director in the past.