One incumbent, three newcomers to join Crystal Lake District 47 school board

Highest vote-getter said parents focused on science and diversity in April elections

The candidates leading for four open seats on the Crystal Lake School District 47 school board include, left to right, Laura Stanton, Lisa Messinger, Emily Smith and, not pictured, Courtney Hand.

The voters and parents Crystal Lake School District 47 candidate Lisa Messinger spoke to on the campaign trail wanted “to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion” in the district’s students, she said.

Messinger is set to join the elementary district’s school board this May as she led the field of candidates with 4,175 votes, according to the vote totals, which included all ballots but remain unofficial until canvassing is complete.

She is one of three newcomers and one incumbent on track to join the board.

For the three four-year seats up for election, Messinger led the field, followed by fellow newcomer, Laura Stanton, with 3,220 votes, and incumbent Emily Smith with 3,094.

Courtney Hand, one of two people running for an open two-year seat, received 3,342 votes. She beat out Jonathan Norquist, who earned 3,030 votes, according to the unofficial results.

Another other incumbent seeking a four-year seat, Devon Tessmer, came in with 2,452 votes, not enough to retain her spot on the board. She had been appointed to the two-year term but chose to run for a full term in the election.

Filling out the field were PaTrice Dewey with 2,856 votes, Kerri Johnson with 2,209, and Will Schroeder with 1,096.

Messinger, the highest vote-getter, said this week that her role as a pediatrician may have brought votes her way.

Voters may have made “assumptions about me that may have earned me votes, that I am level headed and follow science and know something about kids. I think that helped,” Messinger said.

As she knocked on doors and met with parents and voters, she did not have many discussions about the current board or any dissatisfaction about its leadership, Messinger said.

“The feedback I got knocking on doors was that I understood science and that I knew about childhood development,” she said.

What she did hear – and told voters – was that she would not focus on what books should or should not be in schools or classrooms, but on students.

Most parents “agreed that they want a wide variety of age-appropriate books in the library. I would go even further to say ... that I felt like most of the parents that I talked to wanted to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion” in the district’s students, Messinger said.

Stanton, the other new board member, talked about her desire to ensure District 47 schools were able to hire and retain teachers. She said that contract negotiations between the district and and teachers union will likely start this summer.

Neither did she feel the addition of two new board members were in any way a referendum on the current board.

“I just think that we all campaigned and did what we could to get out names out there,” Stanton said.

Smith, the lone incumbent to retain her seat, said she was “humbled and honored by the unofficial results of the election. I’m confident those of us elected will represent our community and will work together diligently focused on the kids.”

There were “great candidates” for residents to choose from, said Dewey, one of the challengers. She came in with fourth-highest number of votes for the three open seats.

“I am disappointed to have lost, but not to have lost to someone unqualified, ... to someone that didn’t know the job,” Dewey said.

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