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Four newcomers, three incumbents win Grand Forks School Board race

Bill Palmiscno1 / 7
Ward K. Johnson2 / 7
Meggen Sande3 / 7
Eric Burin4 / 7
Dane J. Ferguson5 / 7
Rebecca Grandstrand6 / 7
Douglas C. Carpenter7 / 7

Four out of seven available seats on the Grand Forks School Board appears to have been won by newcomers, based on unofficial but complete election results.

Incumbent Bill Palmiscno and Ward Johnson, a newcomer, appear to have won seats with two-year terms. Newcomers Meggen Sande, Eric Burin and Dane Ferguson, and incumbents Becca Grandstrand and Doug Carpenter appear to have won seats with four-year terms.

Results from all 22 precincts are in.

Many newcomers cited a lack of communication from the School Board, an issue that became apparent after a property tax increase last fall took many by surprise.

Sande said she’s looking forward to making a difference and a change.

Burin said he respects all candidates who ran for election. “I want all of Grand Forks to know that I’m going to work for the entire community.”

Grandstrand said she looks forward to working with and learning from the new candidates.

A term on the board is usually four years, though because two members quit midterm, two seats this year have two-year terms. Each member is paid $4,000 a year.

The School Board race was the biggest in the area with 20 candidates vying for the seven seats.

In the race for seats with two-year terms, Justin Berry had 14.6 percent of the vote, Joshua L. Brown had 17 percent, Johnson had 18.2 percent, Tim Lamb had 16.1 votes and Palmiscno had 30.1 votes.

In the race for seats with four-year terms, Joshua D. Anderson had 4.9 percent of the vote, Burin had 10.2 percent, Carpenter had 9 percent, Ferguson had 8.2 percent, David George had 2.2 percent, Grandstrand had 9 percent, Kevin Kuntz had 6.2 percent, Ben Hoffman had 4 percent, Christina A. Loh had 4 percent, Michelle Rydz had 3.4 percent, Sande had 11 percent, Cynthia H. Shabb had 7.2 percent, Cory Solem had 6.2 percent, Matt Spivey had 7.4 percent and Mike St. Onge had 7 percent.

In a related race, 82 percent voted to have the School Board publish its minutes for the next two years in the school district’s official newspaper.

Fiscal issues

In earlier correspondence with the Herald, several newcomers said the School Board needs to release more updates and information to taxpayers.

The board also needs to hold a public vote on major building projects, form a community outreach committee and look into redrawing district lines to keep neighborhood schools in use, they said.

The seven incumbents noted the progress the board has made in recent years, but said they would push for more.

Carpenter, a critic-turned-candidate who has been with the board since October, said the district has endured “a very difficult fiscal time” and the board needs to consider reducing the mill levy.

He was appointed a few months after the board proposed a 28.6-percent property tax increase. Under pressure from Carpenter and others, the board decided instead to approve a 21.6-percent increase.

“The effort to eliminate the deficit has been good as it has forced the district to review items that have been on autopilot,” he said. 

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit 

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