Two incumbents – and one familiar name and face – took seats on the Columbia Public Schools board on Tuesday night.
Voters returned Jonathan Sessions and Helen Wade to the board and welcomed former board member Paul Cushing back.
Wade led the returns with 8,142 votes. Sessions was behind her with 7,508 and Cushing took the final open seat with 5,521 votes.
Cushing had been called an almost-incumbent because of previous service to the board. He had been elected in 2012, only to resign to take a job in Minnesota later that year.
“I really enjoyed my time on the board before,” he told ABC 17 News on Tuesday night. “I enjoyed being part of something as excellent – that may not be the best way say it – as Columbia Public Schools and working with all the people, so I’m looking forward to doing that again.”
Incumbent Helen Wade was first elected to the board in 2011. She named controversial new testing standards such as Common Core as challenges for the district in coming years.
“We need to make sure that our assessments are effective, to make sure that every program we have in place services students well and [we need to] make sure they can achieve at the very highest levels,” she said shortly after winning re-election.
Wade stood next to fellow incumbent Jonathan Sessions throughout the night, watching results come in.
Sessions was first elected to the board in 2010. He said his priority previously had been on expansion in secondary education, specifically opening Battle High School.
“Now we need to buckle down and focus on achievement for the next three years,” he said, adding that more expansion was coming with the approval of a $50 million bond issue Tuesday.
A second challenger, Joe Toepke, missed a seat on the board with 4,289 votes.
Dr. Tom Rose had previously announced he would not be seeking re-election to the board.