Critics of Iowa City school district prominent among school board winners

Candidates leery of Hoover closing among 5 elected

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Three candidates critical of the Iowa City Community School District — including the planned closing of Hoover Elementary School — were among those elected Tuesday to the Iowa City school board.

With no incumbents choosing to run again, five newcomers will join the seven-member school board later this month after beating out opponents in the 13-candidate field.

LaTasha DeLoach, Phil Hemingway, Tom Yates and Lori Roetlin won four-year terms.

Christopher Liebig won a two-year term, filling a seat that was up for grabs after school board member Tuyet Baruah announced her resignation in July. Turnout in the election was 10.5 percent of eligible voters.

The Iowa City school board in 2013 passed a facilities plan that includes the closure of Hoover Elementary no earlier than the 2017-18 school year. Hemingway, Yates and Liebig have said they support revisiting the decision to close Hoover.

“I ran against two qualified opponents, and any one of them could have won,” said Liebig, a Hoover Elementary School parent and University of Iowa professor. “We didn’t know what to expect.”

He said he hopes to advocate for more community input in school board decisions, saying that hasn’t always been the case in the past.

“A lot of the time, it just seems like a decision got made without an opportunity for the community to really express what they’d like.”

Liebig has been a loud proponent for eradicating what he calls the “top-down nature” of public education.

He won 39 percent of the vote for the two-term seat, narrowly beating opponents Megan Schwalm, a parent and diversity consultant, and Paul Roesler, a former district committee member.

“The school system seems increasingly removed from meaningful democratic control,” Liebig has said.

DeLoach, a parent and community projects specialist for Johnson County social services, said she decided to run because she didn’t see herself, her friends or children represented in school boards of the past.

She received more votes than any of her opponents, gaining support of 18 percent of those who voted in the election.

Hemingway, an auto repair business owner, received 14 percent of the vote. He’s said his “blue-collar background” will help the board focus on fiscal responsibility.

Yates, a retired teacher and former teachers union president, also garnered 14 percent of the vote. He’s said the public has been shut out of school board dealings, and he’d like to change that.

Roetlin, a parent and social worker with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, took 12 percent of the vote.

“I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to success for all our children,” she has said.

• In the Solon School Board elections, newcomer Adam Haluska received 34 percent of the vote. Incumbent Dan Coons lost by three votes to Jim Hauer, who received 24 percent.

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