If Tuesday’s voting pattern holds steady when the April 7 election rolls around, all four candidates who made it through the Milton School Board primary will have their work cut out for them to win one of two open seats on the board.
Retired local teacher Mike Hoffman led the pack in Tuesday’s primary with 1,059 votes. The three others who advanced to the spring vote—incumbent Karen Hall, Shelly Crull-Hanke and David Holterman—were neck-and-neck. Each garnered about 20% of the overall vote Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the Rock and Jefferson county clerks.
“It’s obvious and apparent that I’ve got some work ahead of me,” Hall said Tuesday night. “I’ll be campaigning hard of the next six weeks or so.”
A fifth candidate, Chuck Jackson, saw his campaign end Tuesday. He trailed significantly in vote-getting, losing to Hoffman by 459 votes.
Crull-Hanke, Hall, Holterman and Hoffman all said they believe it’s time the district move forward from the upheaval of last year that began when stipends given to two top administrators came to light.
Hoffman said years of teaching have instilled in him the idea that there’s always more to learn, and he said that holds true as the district moves forward in the wake of those administrators resigning over the stipend incident.
Hall said she thinks people should refrain from social media postings that continue to “dredge up” the administrative issues that divided the community last year.
Holterman said he has “no opinion” on the stipend issue and the fallout from it that led to former superintendent Tim Schigur and former district spokesman and deputy finance official Jerry Schuetz leaving the district.
He said it’s time the community focus on new administration and potential new board members.
“A lot has changed over,” Holterman said. “The question now is, are there good people involved who want to try to do the right things?”
Crull-Hanke said she thinks some factions in the community have remained “obsessed” with the stipend snafu. She thinks the issue is old news.
“The district has changed how it handles some policies, including stipends. It’s water under the bridge,” she said.
All three candidates said it will be important to focus on the $2.5 million operational referendum that voters approved in 2016. That referendum sunsets next year, and the school board will have to decide whether to try and renew it through another vote, which would require the board to educate taxpayers on what renewing the referendum would mean to them.