|The deadlock on the Antigo school board is over.|
That was the message sent by district voters Tuesday night, who swept a new slate of school board candidates into office in unprecedented numbers.
Voters tossed out incumbent Clark Palmer and failed to be swayed by former board member Roy Dieck, Gail Zaverousky and Karin Koeppel, who ran as a team.
Instead, they moved to new faces, electing Dr. Patrick McKenna, Tara Fermanich Guelzow, Scott Jensema and Jeanne Long.
The election returns the board to its full nine-member strength, ending a 4-4 split that has existed since the resignation of Dr. Karl Niedermann last fall.
“The deadlock is over,” Board President Mike Boldig said. “Now it is time to welcome the new members, start working together and move the district forward.”
Final tally was McKenna, 2,386; Guelzow, 2,341; Jensema, 2,218; and Long, 2,125.
Koeppel was fifth with 1,557; Dieck, 1,285; Zaverousky, 1,261; and Palmer, last with 1,153.
McKenna, Guelzow, Long and Jensema, who also ran as a block, garnered 63 percent of all votes cast, including 73 percent of the city total and 56 percent of rural votes.
The four also won in both the city and the county, although the rural margins were much closer.
In the city, McKenna was first at 1,096, followed by Guelzow at 1,073, Jensema with 1,015 and Long with 978.
Koeppel was next at 459, followed by Zaverousky, 380, Dieck, 369, and Palmer, 337.
Among rural voters, McKenna finished with 1,290; Guelzow, 1,268; Jensema, 1,203; and Long, 1,147. Koeppel had 1,098 votes, Dieck, 916; Zaverousky, 881, and Palmer, 816.
McKenna, who finished first in seven of the nine city precincts and four of the 18 rural districts, said he was heartened by the victory.
“I’m very grateful to the community,” he said. “Now the hard work begins.”
The new board member is an Antigo native and physician with Aspirus General Clinic.
Guelzow was the top finisher in two city wards and four rural districts. Also an Antigo native, she is an attorney with Sommer, Olk & Payant LLP.
Jensema, who serves as child welfare coordinator for Langlade County, called the win “extremely humbling.”
“The support I received personally is overwhelming,” he said. “Now it’s time to get to work.”
Long, who served on the Bowler school board for 14 years prior to moving into the Antigo district, thanked the voters “for trusting me with the education of their children.”
“I’m elated,” she said.
The new members will be seated at the board’s reorganizational meeting, tentatively set for April 22. That session will also include election of officers, a process that could prove interesting since the present vice-president, Joe Kretz, and treasurer, Beth Bockes, declined to seek re-election.