Incumbents run away with Summit school board lead
Three familiar faces and one new member were elected to the Summit School District Board of Education on Election Day.
Incumbent Kate Hudnut won the two-year race, and incumbents Johanna Kugler and Lisa Webster, along with newcomer Chris Guarino, won the four-year races in a deep field of seven candidates.
With three incumbents reelected to the board, the only outgoing board member is Tracey Carisch, who has been on the board since running unopposed in 2017. She did not run for reelection.
In the two-year race, Hudnut beat 4 For the Kids slate member Danielle Surette with a total of 4,982 votes, good for 63%, as of 11:05 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4.
“I’m just so honored,” Hudnut said Tuesday night. “I am so proud that our voters stand squarely behind our schools and the great work that we have going on, and are giving me and our team the opportunity to continue to build on the great things that are happening.”
Hudnut has been on the school board since running unopposed in 2017 and has been president since early 2020. She has continued to express her support of the district’s strategic plan, which promotes academic and personal success for every student, equitable learning systems and strong community partnerships. She also wants the district to work to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and staff.
“I always will lean on the phenomenal work that is going on in our district under the new strategic plan, under our interim Superintendent Roy Crawford and his team and our incredible educators,” Hudnut said. “This isn’t about me. This is about the work that we’re doing. That’s what I feel like was on the ballot tonight.”
As a member of the 4 For the Kids slate, Surette previously said she ran because the district needed a change and she felt a responsibility to step up. She received 2,903 votes, good for 37%.
In the four-year race, Guarino earned 4,380 votes, good for 19.5%, Kugler earned 4,274 votes, good for 19%, and Webster earned the most votes in the four-year race with 4,485, good for 20%.
Guarino is a construction project management consultant who has worked with the district to improve its facilities for several years and is excited to bring his expertise to the board. He has continued to express that his primary goal is to build a trusting relationship with the community. He also hopes to recruit and retain excellent teachers and create equitable opportunities for all students.
“I’m going to do what’s best for our children every single day” Guarino said. “… I would hope that everyone will see actions are louder than words, and we’re going to do everything we can to do what’s best for the children every single day.”
Guarino said he thinks it’s wonderful to see how much engagement the election has had, and he hopes to see higher voter turnout in the future.
“I’m feeling really good about the potential here,” Guarino said. “It seems to be a good night for Summit County children.”
Kugler, who was appointed to the board in July after another board member resigned, emphasized her experience in early childhood education and with big-picture systems work. She has also continued to support the priorities outlined in the district’s strategic plan and wants to advocate for the whole child, team and community, including families, educators, other district staff and community members outside the district’s walls.
“I am so excited and honored to really be serving children, families, educators and the community to really make sure the whole child is taken care of and that we get to have the opportunity to continue making our school district the success that I know it is and can be,” Kugler said. “This win is for our children, our educators and our families. I encourage everyone to still continue to be involved in the school district because all voices matter.”
Webster was also appointed to the board in May after another board member resigned. She previously served on the board from 2015-19, aiming to prioritize the individual needs of every child, every day — Crawford’s mantra. Webster said she views her work with the board as a continuation of defending constitutional freedoms as she did during her time in the military.
“I’m really excited,” Webster said. “Let’s get back to the business of district work and focus on our students.”
The 4 For the Kids slate — which ran on a platform of academics, fiscal responsibility and transparency, among other issues — was handed a defeat Tuesday night. Kim Langley earned 2,808 votes, or 13%, Manuela Michaels earned 2,493 votes, or 11%, and Pat Moser earned 2,608 votes, or 12%. The candidates in the slate, which included three mothers and one grandmother, ran because they didn’t see the current board as focused on academics given dropping test scores in recent years.
Moser spoke with the Summit Daily News on behalf of the slate Tuesday night, saying the results are “disappointing.”
Toby Babich — who earned 1,246 votes, or 5.5% — congratulated the winning candidates and thanked everyone who participated in the election, both those running and voting.
“This campaign certainly highlighted the differences of the candidates and brought some important discussions to the forefront of our community dialogue,” Babich wrote in a text message Tuesday night. “However, in speaking with most of the candidates individually, I think we all have more in common than we realize, and I look forward to our community coming together to address the needs of our children collaboratively and with mutual respect for our differences.”
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