Two political newcomers will be joining the governing board of Ohio’s eighth largest school system.
Former Lakota school principal Brad Lovell and Kelley Casper won seats and incumbent Todd Parnell appears to have edged out incumbent Ray Murray.
Current Lakota Board of Education member Lynda O’Connor didn’t win a West Chester Twp. Trustee seat and will remain on the board, according to unofficial results from the Butler County Board of Elections.
Casper was the leading vote-getter with 23 percent of votes and Lovell garnered 22 percent.
Former Lakota student Lovell — a native of West Chester Twp. — won a board seat in his first try at publicly elected office.
“It feels good to be back home and I think the community wins because we have a board that will take the district to the next level,” he said.
The election of Lovell marks a first in the modern era for the 16,500-student district by having a former Lakota school principal on the board.
Parnell edged out Murray by 226 votes — winning 19.65 percent — to land the third open seat, though the final totals may differ in the coming weeks as election officials make their official count.
Murray, who received 19.05 percent of the vote, may also request a recount, given the losing margin falls within the state guidelines that allow for such action.
Parnell, who is the current board’s vice president, said, “I am grateful to the community of Lakota for giving me another four years to continue the great work we have started.”
Parnell grabbed attention early in the race by claiming that he alone among the six candidates was the only fiscal conservative running and the sole blocker to any school tax hikes.
Earlier this year, Lakota officials announced the school system’s cash projections have it operating without a deficit until 2020 — and given adequate funding from the state and other favorable variables — may be able to sustain its current solvency to 2026.
If O’Connor had won election to the township trustees, the board would have had to appoint a new member to fill the remaining two years of her four-year term.
Casper, Lovell and Parnell’s four-year terms will begin with their swearing in during the board’s meeting in early January, joining O’Connor and member Julie Shaffer.
Current Board President Ben Dibble did not seek re-election.