Fillmore Central has five candidates for four open School Board seats

Voters in the Fillmore Central School District will be selecting four Board members from a slate of five candidates on Tuesday. Four of the candidates are incumbents, seeking re-election, while Jennifer Pickett is seeking a position on the board for the first time.

Craig Britton is a civil engineer and works for a consulting firm in its Rochester office. He and his wife, Lori, grew up in Preston and both graduated from Fillmore Central. They have two daughters, one in seventh grade and one in fifth grade. He and his family are members of Christ Lutheran and volunteer there in various roles. Through his work, he serves as a volunteer for several projects, including The Boys and Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House, Adopt a Highway and Adopt a Park.

Emily Ellis-Onsager is a practice manager at the Harmony and Cresco Veterinary Clinic. She is married to Shannon Onsager and has two sons, Lucas and Stefan, both students at Fillmore Central. She is a member of St. Columban Catholic and volunteers there in a variety of ways. She is also an active school parent, volunteering with meals, chaperoning, post-prom fundraising and various other ways.

Jennifer Pickett grew up in Harmony and is a Fillmore Central graduate. She is married to Colin and they have four children, Morgan, Kathryn, Cooper and Harper. She is a supervisor at the Cancer Center at Mayo Clinic and has worked there for 18 years. She serves as a volunteer with 4-H, her church and the Luren Singers Auxiliary.

Sue Sikkink is a loan administrator at First Southeast Bank in Harmony. She and her husband, Chuck, have two children, Brad and Erin, and a son-in-law, Jason. Their two grandchildren, Brock and Kendyl, are students at Fillmore Central. Sikking has been involved in the Fillmore County Relay for Life for 22 years, serving as the event co-chair for two years. She has served on the School Board for 21 years and has been actively involved with the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk for 12 years.

Shelly Topness is the director of sales and marketing at Valley Design in Fountain. She and her husband, Erik, have two children, Madelyn, 10, and Marissa, 14, and are hosting an exchange student, Stella, this year. She is a member of Christ Lutheran and has helped with Sunday school and in various roles at the church. She has served on the school board for 12 years in two different terms and serves on the Junior Olympic Volleyball board.

What has motivated you to file for this office?

Britton: I have served on the school board for 13 years. We’ve been doing a lot of great things, like implementing the Action 100 reading program, making technology advancements and several facility improvements, all while maintaining a good fund balance. I am running again to continue my commitment to the district.

Ellis-Onsager: I feel we have a very good team on the School Board and work well together. We have been doing so many improvements at the school, adding Action 100, getting larger class sizes at the elementary school and we are working well as a board to get better facilities and better education for our kids.

Pickett: With children at all levels within our schools, I have a vested interest in our district’s future.

Sikkink: I want to work together with my fellow Board members to continue to preserve the quality of education and help improve the quality of programming at the Fillmore Central District. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Board and I would like to continue to strive to do what’s best for students and of the school district.

Topness: I thoroughly enjoy being on the School Board, and it serves as a good connection to what is going on in the school my children attend. It’s also nice to be part of the interactions on the administration side. As a taxpayer, it keeps me a little bit more informed and I have a say in how our money is being spent for our students sake. I also enjoy the community interaction. We have a great board right now — we communicate well and our ideals tend to be in line with each other. Our district is in good financial condition right now. I have a lot of pride in our community and in our school and am proud to be a part of it all.

Name one characteristic you have that has enabled or would enable you to be a valuable member of this office.

Britton: Our administration does an excellent job and I truly enjoy working with them to come up with solutions, as well as listen and work together. We have a good board in place.

Ellis-Onsager: Honesty: I am going to give you my opinion and will speak from the education I have received and what I believe will be the best for the school.

Pickett: Through her career and volunteer efforts, Pickett said those opportunities have taught her time management, flexibility, teamwork and the ability to look at the big picture.

Sikkiink: My ability to listen and weigh both sides of an issue. I strive to encourage communication between the board members and the community.

Topness: Because of my job, 16 years in sales and marketing, I’m a good communicator. I can get points across without being argumentative and I know my facts. When I have questions for administrators or when I am approached by members of the community, I believe in being open and honest.

Looking forward, name your top priority for your school and how you would like to see the board address that issue.

Britton: I want to continue to keep putting money into the classroom and provide a great education for the kids. Enrollment is stabilized and that’s helped quite a bit — now that it’s stabilized, it’s easier to budget and plan for the future.

Ellis-Onsager: Continuing on with our reading programs and continuing to update our facility — because that just doesn’t stop. I want to always have more continual education opportunities for our teachers as well. I think our Board is always working towards improvement in all areas of the district.

Pickett: Our students are currently and continue to be our main priority as a school district.  We need to strive for continuous improvement, while expanding our current resources for both students and teachers.  Fillmore Central has to be clear with its long-term vision, we must provide structure to maintain the momentum of the plan and empower the staff to support it. I am looking forward to working closely with the administration, staff, students and community to provide a quality education for all students.

Sikkink: I believe we have to keep working towards staying current with the technology we provide our students and encouraging our teachers to further their education to aid the students. Our Action 100 Reading program needs to continue as well.

Topness: We certainly have to keep our eye on the ball with our finances and our facilities. We have to be constantly aware of funding and needs. We want to stay ahead of the game and want to be one of the best districts in the area, which helps bring people into the community. We need to keep up with our facilities and continue to spend our money wisely. Safety factors, as we see in the news everyday, need to be addressed at our schools. We have to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our students and teachers safe.