Voters turn down referendum, elect new School Board member

By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Chatfield School District voters elected a new board member while turning down both referendum questions during a special election Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The operating levy referendum proposed to increase the amount of voter-approved per-pupil contributions in a two-part question. The proposed increase was either $275 with the passage of the first amount posed to voters or by $350 with an additional $75 added to the $275.

Ultimately, the district’s voters chose not to increase either student operating support. The first question, for $275 in additional per-pupil funding, failed with 385 people, 34.25 percent, in favor and 739, or 65.75 percent, not in favor.  The second question, for $75 more, did not pass because there were 331 people voting “yes” and 794, or 70.58 percent, voting “no,” and because that question was contingent on the passage of the first question presented to voters. 

The operating levy referendum was meant to boost the district’s finances so that it could be proactive in the effort to address financial challenges as enrollment remains steady, but costs of operating do not.      

The district also sought to fill the School Board seat currently held by appointed member F. Mike Tuohy, who temporarily replaced longtime board member Jerry Chase, who resigned last year. 

The School Board election found candidate Rick Lowrey leading with 681 votes placed, and candidate Dorothy-Helen Billmeier garnering 283 votes.  There were 31 write-in candidates. 

The board held its regular meeting this Tuesday, Nov. 12, instead of the usual first Wednesday of each month due to the election, and canvassing was slated to be done at that time, so these vote totals were unofficial since that meeting was after this edition went to press.