Pickerington Local School District Board of Education incumbents Lori Sanders and Vanessa Niekamp were re-elected in the general election Nov. 7, but as of the early morning hours Nov. 8, Fairfield County Board of Elections officials officials were still sorting out write-in votes to determine the winner of the third seat that was to be determined.
That one seat in a race that featured five write-in candidates was still undecided, according to unofficial final results.
With all 37 precincts reported, results showed Sanders was the top vote-getter in the seven-person race for three seats on the five-person school board.
Sanders received 4,930 votes (37.4 percent). The victory earned her a sixth term on the school board.
Following Sanders was Niekamp, with 4,246 votes (32.2 percent.
As for who finished third – or fourth through seventh – board of elections officials said they were continuing to hand count the remaining 4,020 write-in votes cast.
Those vying for the final seat as write-ins in the election were Nick Derksen, David Horton, Mark Kenney, Clay Lopez and E. Gayle Saunders.
Those five ran as write-ins because all entered the race after the Aug. 9 filing deadline to appear as candidates on the ballot.
They each submitted petitions to run after incumbent board member Cathy Olshefski and would-be challengers Jaclyn Rohaly and Pryestt Strickland were disqualified by the board of elections because their filing information fell short of state guidelines.
Sanders said during her campaign she was seeking a sixth term “because I care about every student here and I know we are doing great things in our schools.
“People involve themselves in different service organizations,” she said. “Schools are mine. I work in it and I serve the community as a board member.”
The victory for Niekamp, the board’s current president, means she’ll get to serve a second term.
During her campaign, Niekamp said she would focus on enhancing the district’s wellness, mental health and drug and alcohol prevention programs.
She added, “We need to develop a budget that best aligns resources with student achievement goals; by mobilizing key stakeholders, gathering information on academic performance and cost structure, and establishing principles and policies to guide the budget process.”