Incumbents Tom Haglin and Ruth Nelson will both return to the Brainerd School Board in 2019. First-timer Charles Black Lance, a district parent, will join them.
The third time's a charm for Black Lance, who came up short in the last two elections but garnered 6,331 votes this year to edge out Sarah Speer for the third spot. Black Lance, who is director of TRIO programming at Central Lakes College, expressed gratitude to his wife and kids for all their support and hard work with putting out campaign signs and door knocking during election season, and is excited to teach his kids resilience and show them that hard work pays off. He also thanked a higher authority.
"I have to give glory to Christ, my Lord and Savior, for the opportunity to run for school board," he said. "I'm just really excited at the opportunity to serve the students of Brainerd and then also the community members of the Brainerd lakes area as well. I couldn't be more proud to be in the role in that I'm going to be serving here for the next four years."
Haglin-owner of LINDAR Corps., Avantech and Tri-Ven-was the top vote-getter with 9,109 votes, followed by Nelson-who works at Lindner Media Productions-with 7,367.
Haglin said he is "humbled and honored" to add another term to his nine years on the board.
"I'm anxious to continue to work on the building project for the next four years, as well as working with staff to make sure we're providing the right resources to provide the greatest opportunities for our students," he said. "I'm excited. It'll be another fun four years head of us-challenging, but fun."
Similarly, Nelson, current board chair and 13-year board member, said she is grateful for the community's support and humbled by it.
"I want to thank everyone who voted. Voting is so important. And I look forward to four more years and will continue to make decisions based on what is best for our students and our community," she said. "I'll continue to work hard for our district."
Other vote totals are as follows:
• Sarah Speer, 6,276.
• Jeff Czeczok, 5,219.
• Tiffanie Knapp, 4,742.
• Matthew Avery, 3,656.
There were 159 write-in votes.
Though the nail-biter of a race for the third seat didn't end in Speer's favor, she said the campaign process was a wonderful experience for her.
"It was just so neat to see so many people run in that race. It just, I think, goes to show that there's a lot of great support and passion for our kids and our district," Speer said, noting there are still many ways to support the district.
Czeczok, who has previously run for school board, Brainerd City Council and Crow Wing County Board, was not deterred by the results.
"I've run for public office many times, and I've not yet won, but I will keep doing what I've been doing, and I will keep holding local governments accountable. That's what I do," he said. "You don't always get a favorable position, but I've been doing it long enough, so I know that sometimes when you speak the truth you create enemies, and if that's what it is then that's what it is."
After the race Knapp said all of the candidates running were very qualified and felt the board would be successful going forward.
Avery was not available for comment after the race.