The Franklin School Board primary is over, and two candidates are out. Incumbent Board Member Judith Bialk and former School Board Member David Works, who lost his seat on the Board in 2011, will not be moving forward to the general election in April. The top vote-getters were Incumbent Board Member Janet Evans, Donald Petre, Aimee Schlueter and John Thompson. Those will be the folks looking for your vote over the next month and a half.
When the results were slowly coming in, I was surprised to see such a high number for Petre. If you may remember, Petre has been a targeted focus among conservative bloggers in Franklin due to his union membership and the "Recall Walker" sign in front of his home. In the end, Petre finished in second place receiving 724 votes. I think what happened here is simple - the conservative bloggers, in hopes of galvanizing a strong conservative vote for Evans and Schleuter, didn't think all things through. By pointing out Petre's "negatives", conservative bloggers did the political homework for Democrats who might not have known about Petre. In addition to Democratic voters, Petre likely received a large chunk of votes from parents who welcome his strong positions on new or renovated facilities for our schools. Parents are getting more passionate about this issue every year that goes by without anything being done, and Petre hit that issue home.
As for Evans getting 1st place in votes, it should show candidates how big of an impact attending all those school-related functions can be. In addition to votes earned due to name recognition among parents, Evans also got the strong conservative vote. These voters are the ones who feel that Evans is the last hope to kill a future school referendum, and don't want anything new or renovated relative to school district facilities.
It will be interesting to see how Schlueter transitions herself to be a stronger candidate that could overcome Petre. While 3rd place this time was fine, in April that still means she would lose. Based on impressions I received, Schlueter could likely go down the path Evans created, touting a hardline conservative ideology relative to school district spending and student programs. Evans knows how to network, and certainly knows how to play politics. I'm expecting Evans to "coach" Schlueter in this race, simply because she would be concerned about Petre getting Bialk's Board seat.
As for Thompson, the teachers union nod was the main reason behind his 4th place finish. If Thompson wants to win this, he needs to get his name and face out there, along with his platform. I'd also feel that he needs to work more with Petre. If Petre's numbers can remain strong, the voters can go Petre-Thompson.
In closing, while Schlueter will receive a solid chunk of Evans voters and Thompson will get Petre voters, being the "runners-up" in the minds of voters highlight a 3rd or 4th place finish for them. Both Schlueter and Thompson will need to get their identities out there so that voters are motivated enough to vote for them not just because of who they're associated with, but of the issues they stand on.