Worthington Schools voters re-elected incumbents Jennifer Best and Sam Shim, but newcomer candidate Nikki Hudson got the lion's share of votes Nov. 7 for school board.
Hudson received 7,207 votes, or 23 percent of all votes cast; Shim received 6,498; and Best received 5,363 votes, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The third incumbent, Marc Schare, came in fourth at 4,084 votes and two other candidates, Amy Lloyd and P.R. Casey, received 3,897 votes and 3,579 votes, respectively.
Hudson, 45, an intellectual-property, marketing and privacy attorney, said as the election results rolled and it became clear she was coming out on top, Worthington Education Association president Mark Hill called it "a political earthquake."
"That may be accurate, considering the usual win rate for first-time candidates is 10 percent," she said. "Our team worked hard at the grassroots level to listen to all segments of the Worthington community. I think residents, like myself, are realizing they can lend a voice and advocate on a local level."
She said her role as co-chairwoman of the district's facilities-planning task force definitely helped her candidacy, as well as the other volunteering she does in the schools.
District leaders formed the task force to report on a master plan and ways to solve the problems of aging facilities, unbalanced attendance at the high schools and over-capacity buildings.
"These past 15 months, the task force provided me a valuable foundation with which we could engage voters at a grassroots level during the campaign," she said.
"It is important that we move forward on a balanced master facilities plan while at the same time ensuring that our programs continue to evolve and flourish."
She said she vowed "to keep students and their educational experience at the center of all my work on the school board."
Best, 59, is a self-employed Certified Public Accountant who first was elected to the school board in 2001, said she is happy to be able to serve another term.
When asked what she would focus on during that next term, she said the district's facility-planning process is the most urgent.
"The most important thing will be to get the report from the community task force on facilities, review and accept the plan, then start on next steps to be sure we are taking care of our capacity and aging building issues," she said.
"We also need to finish up our policy review and get our updated policy manual in place."
Shim, 47, an IT consultant who was elected to the school board in 2013, said he will keep promoting school culture that focuses on making sure every student has a trusted adult to confide in and instills the district's "Be kind to kids" philosophy.
"I also want to continue to fine-tune our academic offerings to reflect the changing student demographics," he said.
He said the student population has become more diverse over the past 20 years and more than 75 languages and dialects are spoken by Worthington students.
The district also should educate students and parents about the opioid crisis and substance-abuse issues, as well as increase community awareness of educational offerings for students, Shim said.
"We are the only suburban district in central Ohio to have both an alternative middle school and an alternative high school," he said.
He said the new master facilities plan, when it is complete, will need the support of the community.
"We will need to pass a bond issue to finance improvements to our building and pass an operating levy so we are not forced to reduce staff or increase class sizes," he said. "We are out of capacity and had to install six portable classrooms at our elementary schools this year."
Schare, meanwhile, said board members "come and go" but the district would continue to educate the community's children.
The 58-year-old software developer has been a board member for the past 12 years.
"While the results are obviously not what I would have hoped for, I have nothing but gratitude in my heart to the Worthington community," he said.
"I am very proud of the things our teachers, administrator and staff, along with board members past and present, did to transform our district in so many positive ways."