Seven candidate were competing for three seats on the Westonka school board this year, and on Nov. 2 voters backed all three incumbents for another 4 years.

Brian Carlson, Loren Davis and Gary Wollner succeeded in their reelection bids by nearly a 300-vote margin and during a fraught election that saw more candidates on the ballot than any Westonka school board election had in the past 10 years.

Wollner secured 1,372 votes (18.65 percent). Carlson received 1,365 votes (18.55 percent) and Davis received 1,319 votes (17.93 percent). Also on the ballot this year were Rachael Myers (1,060 votes or 14.41 percent), Gregory Snyder (1,055 votes or 14.34 percent), Kathleen Olesinski (820 votes or 11.15 percent) and Katie Holt (344 votes or 4.68 percent).

“I would like to sincerely thank all of those who came out to vote and who supported me and the other candidates during this past election,” said Carlson. “I’m honored and humbled by all of the positive support I received throughout the entire process. I’m also very proud of the engagement and commitment our community has to ensuring our kids have a successful education.”

Commented Daivs, “I am honored and humbled by the support I received in this recent election, by the trust and confidence that members of the Westonka district and community continue to have in me, and by the opportunity I have been given to continue serving our students, our staff, our schools, and community as a member of the Westonka School Board.”

Wollner, who has served 12 years on the school board, said his reelection was “a relief” and that this year “it was a unique election” but that he felt pride in living in an area with people who have a lot of passion for the decisions made by the school board.

The last time that Westonka saw so many candidates running was in 2011 when the board was marked by years divisiveness. This year’s polarized views on the district’s COVID-19 response played into the election as routine board meetings gave way to heated public comment periods. A September candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters had also shown the divided views that those running held on this issue.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity and false information, and I stayed away from that, which I think I came out better for it,” Wollner said on the day after the election.

Wollner commented generally on the one-topic nature of this year’s election and emphasized that serving on the board extends beyond what one election cycle brings to the surface. “I hope we can get by that and hopefully things will settle down a bit,” he said. “Over the last decade it has been a school board that, maybe we don’t always agree, but we talk it through and are able to work toward a positive outcome.”

Said Carlson, “It’s clear that we may not all agree with every decision, but it is also clear that we all only want what’s best for our children’s education.”

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