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Linn-Mar school board election 2021: Two first-time candidates elected
Melissa Walker, Matt Rollinger to join incumbent Rachel Wall on Linn-Mar board
MARION — Newcomers Melissa Walker and Matt Rollinger will be joining incumbent Rachel Wall on the Linn-Mar school board.
Walker, director of philanthropy at Tanager Place, had the most votes in Tuesday’s election, with 4,823.
“I am incredibly excited to be able to serve the community in this way,” Walker said. “I believe very strongly in education and to help propel the mission of our school district forward.”
It is a responsibility of school districts to ensure a safe learning environment for students, Walker said.
“I really hope masks are something we’re not discussing at the school board table for much longer,” she said, adding she hopes the COVID-19 vaccine, approved by federal regulators Tuesday for children between ages 5 and 11, will give more families the ability to protect their children from the virus.
Walker said she also wants to see more mental health resources provided in schools for students and staff.
Wall, who won her second term on the board with 4,207 votes, said she feels “honored” to be given another opportunity to serve.
Wall, a medication technician at The Views of Marion, said she was “really disappointed” the school board election — a nonpartisan race — became so political, with opposition to face masks front and center.
“I personally have always tried to keep my politics out of this, and I think I do a very good job with that,” she said.
The school board voted to require face coverings for prekindergarten through sixth-grade students, who could not be vaccinated. Wall said she favored mandating masks for all students in all grades.
“I think this is an issue that will be entirely off the table in a couple months,” Wall said, adding the school board voted to end the mask mandate 60 days after the vaccine for kids ages 5 through 11 was approved.
Rollinger, who is self-employed, received 3,812 votes. He said he decided to run because he felt like his voice was not being heard by the school board or administration.
Rollinger said a “large number” of parents, himself included, feel they have no voice in decisions being made about their children.
“I believe parents know what’s best for their children more than a school board does,” Rollinger said. “It’s important that parents have the ability to have a voice on those sorts of decisions.”
The other candidates on Tuesday’s ballot were Kara Larson, Cara Lausen and Geralyn Jones.
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