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Hogness wins seat on School Board; Lunn, Pohlman, Erickson retain seats

Voters selected Kelly Hogness, an antiterrorism officer at Grand Forks Air Force Base, as the new member and returned three incumbents to the Grand Forks School Board on Tuesday.

Kelly Hogness

Voters selected Kelly Hogness, an antiterrorism officer at Grand Forks Air Force Base, as the new member and returned three incumbents to the Grand Forks School Board on Tuesday.

In complete but unofficial results, incumbent Vicki Ericson, who was running for her second term, led the field of nine candidates with 6,014 votes, or 18 percent, of the vote.

Running for his fourth term on the board, Eric Lunn received the second-highest vote total with 5,211, or about 16 percent of the vote.

Roger Pohlman, board president who was seeking his second term, drew 4,139 votes, or 12.5 percent of the vote.

Linda Jenkins, who served one term, did not seek reelection.


Hogness, who ran for the Grand Forks School Board in 2010, drew 3,841 votes, or 11.57 percent.

A former member of the air base's School Board, serving from 2007 to 2008, he is chairman of the Grand Forks Head Start Policy Council.

Those experiences "were both very useful" in running for the School Board, he said.

"I'm very excited," he said. "It was definitely a close race."

In the next year, Hogness said he'll be watching "very closely" the schools' enrollment and "if we don't see increased enrollment in the north-side schools, we will need to readdress the lack of enrollment.

"It's one of my huge concerns," he said, "that we're not using our resources as efficiently as we could."

Earlier this year, Wilder, West and Winship elementary schools were considered for possible closure because of declining enrollment.

This spring, the nine-member school board approved recommendations from its Demographic Task Force calling for some attendance-area boundaries to be shifted and that no elementary school be closed in low-attendance areas.


"We keep hiring outside consultants to tell us what we already know," Hogness said. "That's wasteful."

"District-wide, if we can show positive growth, if the schools are within 75 percent of those numbers, I'm comfortable with maintaining those schools," he said. "But if we fall short, we need to step back and readdress those three schools, or any one of the schools, that falls short."

If south-end growth warrants it, he said he's "comfortable building a new school."

Other candidates and their vote totals were: Cory Solem (3,421, 10.3 percent), Margaret Brack (3,082, 9.28 percent), Jay Smith (3,068, 9.24 percent), Eric Burin (3,012, 9.07 percent) and Roland Riemers (1,351, 4.07 percent).

A total of 33,206 votes were cast, including write-ins.

Riemers also ran for the North Dakota governor's post on the Libertarian ticket. Solem was also seeking a seat on the Grand Forks County Commission.

The board has approved a recommendation to build a new elementary school, estimated to cost $10 million, on the city's far south side. If built, the school would open in August 2014.

The School Board endorsed a plan to explore a new location for Community High School, an alternative high school that now leases space.


Board members, who serve four-year terms, receive an annual salary of $4,000. This figure was increased in July. It had been $1,000 for many years.

The board meets twice each month, except in June and July when it meets once monthly.

A field of nine candidates is not unusually high, said district Business Manager Bill Hutchison. In 2010, nine candidates ran for five seats.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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