A crowded school board race in Santa Fe, featuring seven people running for two open seats, resulted in newcomers Clay Hertenberger and James Grassmuck coming away with solid wins Tuesday night.

Current Board President J.R. “Rusty” Norman won a new term running unopposed.

Hertenberger and Grassmuck won with more than 35 percent of the vote each, according to complete but unofficial results.

Their defeat of incumbents John Rothermel and Sheryl Skufca for trustee positions 4 and 5 on the school board, respectively, signaled the ending of a successful campaign story for those who had been asking for change and transparency in the district.

After a school shooting at Santa Fe High School on May 18, when 10 people were killed, many Santa Fe residents said school board members weren’t handling school security appropriately and hadn’t been communicative with parents and other community members about what happened.

Rothermel, who has served on the school board since 2004, and Skufca, who has served since 2010, represented an outdated trustee mindset resistant to change and new ideas, several opponents said.

Other candidates in the race included Jessica Hagewood, Jody Davis and Tina Longcoy.

Candidates vying for the two open seats consistently highlighted school security problems, as well as the district’s 2017-2018 accountability ratings as top issues.

For example, Hertenberger, a business owner with two children who attend Santa Fe High School, is focused on improving board transparency and holding people accountable for their actions, he said. He ran on a campaign of releasing more information to the community about school security so community members don’t have to dig for answers.

Hertenberger wasn’t immediately available for comment on Tuesday night.

Similarly, Grassmuck, who works in information technology, ran for the trustee position so he can improve communication between the school board and the community, as well as to keep the district fiscally responsible.

Grassmuck declined to comment.

Aaron West: 409-683-5246; aaron.west@galvnews.com


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