Janesville43.2°

Slim margin for third-place school board winner

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
April 2, 2008
— Less than 1 percent of the vote put Peggy Sheridan on the Janesville School Board instead of Peter D. Severson.

Three seats were up for grabs in Wednesday’s election. Sheridan had the third-highest vote total. Severson came in just 166 votes behind her.


Incumbents Kevin Murray and Bill Sodemann collected the most votes. Both won their second three-year terms on the board.


Sheridan couldn’t say what put her over the top.


Maybe it was the fact that her husband has the same name and is a distant relative of state Rep. Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, she said.


Or maybe it was the fact that she was the only woman in the race, she speculated.


But Sheridan didn’t use either of those facts in her campaign. Her big issue was safety.


“I’d really like to see safety beefed up at the schools and student safety getting under control with the bullying and the gang violence, threats and things like that,” she said Wednesday night.


Murray and Sodemann are known for challenging the status quo, and that’s a good thing, Murray said.


“If everyone was the same, there wouldn’t be a lot of good debate or new ideas,” Murray said.


Sodemann said he isn’t shy about speaking his mind, and he gave the same answers, whether he was talking to teachers or to Forward Janesville.


Sheridan is just beginning to form her own persona and positions on the board. She replaces Todd Bailey, who did not run for re-election.


Bailey was a strong advocate for sports and a foe of athletics fees.


Murray and Sodemann have supported increasing athletics fees next fall, but Sheridan said she hasn’t yet decided.


“I’d have to look into it,” Sheridan said. “I’m not sure because I don’t have kids in athletics at the higher grade levels.”


Sodemann said he’s most excited about a new, results-oriented management theory the district is beginning to put in place.


Sodemann said he can’t take credit for getting the ball rolling, but he has become one of the board’s most fervent advocates of the process.


“We talk about making Janesville great, and we’re not kidding,” Sodemann said.


Murray said the top of his agenda is getting the handicapped-access ramp built at Monterey Stadium before football season starts and crossing his fingers that Janesville teachers ratify the tentative contract.


The teachers are scheduled to vote today.



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