A mural in the Forest Area Community Schools gymnasium.

FIFE LAKE — After an abnormal election season, the Forest Area Community Schools Board of Education will welcome three new faces.

A field of 10 write-in candidates, including three current trustees, sought to fill the board’s four vacancies after no one filed to run on the official ballot. One incumbent, Christina L. Ingersoll, and three newcomers, Travis Tracey, Kevin Thayer and Richard Steffe, won, according to official election results from the Kalkaska County Clerk’s Office.

Each will serve a four-year term on the board.

Ingersoll said she was unsurprised by the results of the race. She said she was confident she was going to be re-elected because of her presence in the Forest Area community, and she felt the other winners ran a great campaign.

In her next term on the board, Ingersoll said she’s hoping to keep up the positive momentum that Forest Area showed since COVID restrictions, which put a damper on the school environment, were lifted. She said she hopes the district can continue improving its building infrastructure, especially the heating systems, and making new hires, like the high school principal and the new social worker.

“We’re going in the right direction, and I feel really positive about that,” she said.

She added that she feels everyone who was elected this November has the school’s best interests in mind.

Thayer said that he does not want to get too excited about the results of the election before he receives official notification that he has won, but he’s happy with the current results. He put a lot of effort into his campaign, he said.

Thayer, Steffe, Tracey and one more candidate, Michael Binder, coordinated their campaigns.

Thayer said his biggest priority for his first term on the school board is improving the board’s transparency, because he has had some general concerns about the board’s transparency in recent weeks. He also wants to open more channels for parents, teachers and students to have input in the board’s operations.

Steffe said he is mostly satisfied with the results of the election, but he does wish Binder had won as well. He said he feels that they campaigned well — they handed out business cards, went door-to-door, sent out a mailer, stood outside the supermarket, and talked to people about their values.

In his first term on the school board, Steffe said his top priorities will be school security, curriculum and getting back to the fundamentals of learning.

“The community voted us in because they saw the opportunity to put some fresh faces and some new blood on the board,” Steffe said.

Tracey said he’s excited about the results of the election, and he feels he, Steffe, Thayer and Binder did a good job of campaigning. Going into his first term on the board, his top priorities will be transparency and getting parents more involved more regularly in the school and board operations.

At the start of October, Forest Area’s school board had four spots up for grabs in the 2022 election with no candidates running. Because the board has just seven people and four vacancies would have left them without a quorum, the intermediate school district would have been tasked with making appointments to the board in January.

But, by the end of October, 10 candidates filed to run as write-ins for the election, including three current trustees, Jody J. Perkins, Ingersoll and Jillian Snyder.

Snyder said that she is happy with whoever is on the school board, as long as they support the staff and students of Forest Area Community Schools. She declined to comment further.

Perkins could not be reached by presstime.

Three other community members ran as write-ins for the election and lost, including Tyler Tepatti, a recent Forest Area graduate who had been interested in running but didn’t know about the vacancies until it was too late to get on the official ballot. He said he wants to run again in the future, but next time he plans to file early enough to get his name on the official ballot.

Tepatti said he was unsure how the race was going to go beforehand, but he’s happy with how many votes he received, and he’s confident in the newly elected members of the board. He’s planning to attend school board meetings in the future to learn more about how the board works and what the board is working on, so he’s a more informed candidate in the next race.

Stephanie Pollum also ran as a write-in for the school board, but she did not secure a seat. She has been involved with the school’s band program and equestrian program during the past several years and, when no one was running officially, she was asked by a few people she knew to run as a write-in, Pollum said.

Pollum said that Thayer, Steffe, Binder and Tracey all ran a really good campaign, and she did not realize that she would have to get her name out that much, especially since she’s been so involved in the school community in the past. She has thought about running again in the future, but she hasn’t made a final decision on that.

Binder, who ran alongside Thayer, Tracey and Steffe, and Melissa Lynn Morey, who also ran for the school board as a write-in, could not be reached by presstime.

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