Most large school board elections in the Chippewa Valley had few candidates file by Tuesday’s deadline — except for the Menomonie school board, which continued to draw plenty of competition for open board seats for the third year in a row.
Competition is lukewarm for three open positions on the Eau Claire school board coming up April 7.
Two of three incumbents plan to run, but no other challengers filed candidacy papers by the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline, the district said.
That means a write-in candidate will get a seat on the board, said Abby Johnson, the district’s executive director of business services.
The candidate who gets the third highest number of votes will fill the board’s vacant seat, created when former board member Joe Luginbill resigned, Johnson said. That seat will be up for election in April 2021, making it a one-year term instead of a typical three-year term.
“The two top vote-getters would get the three-year terms, and assuming we’ll have a write-in candidate, that would be the successful third person,” Johnson said.
Lori Bica, the board’s vice president and psychology professor at UW-Eau Claire, plans to run again. She has served on the board since 2017.
“The (Eau Claire school district) has contributed significantly to the quality of my own children’s lives. For that I am grateful, and believe that serving on its school board is one of the best ways I can express my gratitude in tangible terms,” Bica told the Leader-Telegram in an email.
Phil Lyons, UW-Stout’s chief business officer, was appointed to Luginbill’s seat in December. He’ll also run to keep a seat on the board.
“I have a great interest and desire to see a strong and vibrant public school system. I’ve worked in higher education for over 30 years and I believe that I have something to offer in service to the community,” Lyons said in an email.
Incumbent Charles Vue, the associate director of UW-Eau Claire’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, said in December he wouldn’t seek a third term. Vue has served on the board since 2014.
To register to be a write-in candidate, people must file for candidacy by noon on the Friday before the election, or April 3, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
It will be the third year in a row that the Menomonie school board race draws a large roster of interested parties.
Seven candidates want to compete for three open seats on the board — and the district will hold a primary Feb. 18 to narrow the field.
All three incumbents are running for their seats: board President Amy Riddle-Swanson, former board President Dan Paulson and board member Heather Klanderman.
Challenging them are Tanya Husby, who formerly served on the board but did not run for her seat again in 2019; Josh Risler; Charlie Schneider; and Sandy White.
Members of the nine-person Menomonie school board serve three-year terms.
Six candidates ran for the three open positions last spring; in 2018, the three seats drew seven candidates.
Three people — incumbent Pete Lehmann, Dennis Fehr and Kevin Swift — will compete for two open seats on the Chippewa Falls school board in April.
Board member Amy Mason, who has served on the board for almost nine years, said in December she wouldn’t run again for her seat.
Swift, an account manager for Ford, lives in Chippewa Falls and has served as president of a Chippewa Falls school booster club. He hopes to continue that relationship with the school district by serving on the board, he told the Leader-Telegram Tuesday. Swift has had three children in the Chippewa Falls school system.
Fehr, who owns a painting company, lives in Chippewa Falls and is a graduate of the school district. He said he’ll push for an emphasis on the trades, and for the district to better prepare students for paths other than college after graduation, he said Tuesday. Fehr has five children, the oldest of whom is in the district’s four-year-old kindergarten program.
Lehmann, first elected to the board in 2011, is also a member of the Lake Hallie Village Board.
As of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Chippewa Falls school district had not received candidacy papers from any other candidate.
Jillian Raschke of the town of Lafayette, a senior at Chippewa Falls Senior High School, did not turn 18 in time to file for a school board seat, but said Tuesday she plans to run as a write-in candidate because she will be 18 before the April 7 election.
Chippewa Falls school board members serve three-year terms; seats are not associated with any wards or districts.
The Altoona school board race will also be contested. With two open seats and just one incumbent, Terry Neff, running, voters will have to choose two candidates, among Neff and challengers Hillarie Roth and Gregg Weber.
Altoona school board President Robin Elvig, who was first elected in 2008 and became president in 2016, will not run for her seat.
Neff won his seat in April and is wrapping up his first year on the board, the Leader-Telegram reported in December.
The five Altoona school board members serve three-year terms.