Jennifer Borcherding unseats 20-year incumbent for seat on Cedar Rapids school board

Voters also pick incumbents Gary Anhalt and Nancy Humbles

Jennifer Borcherding, who challenged longtime Cedar Rapids school board incumbent Keith Westercamp, cheers at a watch party Tuesday night at WineStyles in Cedar Rapids after winning a spot in District 3. (Mary Mathis/Freelance)
Jennifer Borcherding, who challenged longtime Cedar Rapids school board incumbent Keith Westercamp, cheers at a watch party Tuesday night at WineStyles in Cedar Rapids after winning a spot in District 3. (Mary Mathis/Freelance)

A substitute teacher unseated a 20-year Cedar Rapids school board incumbent in Tuesday’s elections, while two other district incumbents in retained their seats.

With nearly 60 percent of the votes cast, newcomer Jennifer Borcherding, 44, ousted longtime incumbent and Realtor Keith Westercamp, 70, who has served on the board since 1997.

“I’d like to start by thanking Westercamp for his service. Twenty years on the board, that’s an incredible commitment and a true devotion of time ... that’s amazing and that really needs to be acknowledged,” Borcherding said. “It’s been amazing, I’m honored to take this position and I’m honored to receive the votes.”

Westercamp did not immediately return calls after the unofficial results were released.

Gary Anhalt’s roughly 1,800 votes — good for about 56 percent — were enough to beat at-large challengers Theodore Collins, 18, and Christopher Gehrke, 37, who received 11 and 32 percent of the vote, respectively.

Anhalt, 70, who has served on the board since 2009, also applauded his competitors.

“I thank my opponents and all that ran,” he said. “I know the competition helped raise the interest within the community. It gave us more of a platform to talk about education.”

Incumbent Nancy Humbles, 66, who was elected in 2009, ran unopposed in District 2 and received nearly 98 percent of votes.

The three elected Tuesday join the Cedar Rapids school board with incumbents Mary Meisterling, Rafael Jacobo, Kristin Janssen and John Laverty. School board members serve without pay.


Later this fall, the school board will receive final recommendations from the district’s facilities planning committee. Nothing is a done deal at this point, but early versions of the committee’s findings recommended closing at least eight of the district’s 21 elementary schools.

But Anhalt said that discussion will be ongoing for many years.

“I see this as something that’s going to continue to be under our surveillance as we look at the community as it grows,” he said.

In addition to the facilities plan, Anhalt and Borcherding expressed an interest in continued discussion on how the district can best prepare students for life after high school.

“I think the district has some really great paths forward for having collaborations to help our graduating seniors have some options other than college. I’d like to see that strengthened and I think I have the connections and relationships in place to help that collaboration along,” Borcherding said.


In the Iowa City school district, voters selected newcomers JP Claussen, 44, who works at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Ruthina Malone, 41, an administrator in the UI College of Liberal Arts; and Janet Godwin, 51, chief operating officer of ACT, to four-year terms.

They received 63, 53 and 51 percent of the vote, respectively.

Shawn Eyestone, 45, an analytical lab manager, was elected to a two-year term filling a vacancy from the resignation of board member LaTasha DeLoach.

The winners will join incumbents Phil Hemingway, Paul Roesler and Lori Roetlin.


Linn-Mar voters selected retired music teacher Robert Anderson, 63, and stay-at-home mom Rachel Wall, 31, with about 21.5 percent of the vote each; and office manager Cara Lausen, 31, with about 17 percent of the vote.

They will join incumbents Tim Isenberg, George AbouAssaly, Sondra Nelson and Clark Weaver on the board.

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