Todey, Volkmann Elected to Sevastopol School Board

Update (Friday, Aug. 26, 4:30 pm): After receiving the outstanding ballots from the town of Sevastopol and Jacksonport on Aug. 26, incumbent Sue Todey and challenger Keith Volkmann have been elected to the Sevastopol School Board following Tuesday’s recall election. Total votes were:  Volkmann, 663; Todey, 638; Bley, 619; and Behme, 603.

Correction: The first edition of this article, published online on Aug. 23, incorrectly identified Randy Nesbitt of Pinkert Law Firm as legal counsel to the school board. Mary Gerbig of the Green Bay-based Davis Kuelthau law firm served as legal counsel to the board throughout the recall process. Residents made a motion to stop retaining Gerbig as legal counsel during the district’s annual meeting on Aug. 23. The print edition of this article, appearing in the Aug. 26 issue of the Peninsula Pulse, is incorrect in referring to Nesbitt as legal counsel.

Incumbent Sue Todey and challenger Keith Volkmann have been elected to the Sevastopol School Board following the recall election on Tuesday, Aug. 23. The official results place Volkmann at the top with 663 votes and Todey with 638 votes. Tim Bley received 619 votes and incumbent Bill Behme received 603 votes. There are still at least 17 outstanding ballots, 13 from the Town of Sevastopol and four from the Town of Jacksonport, which must be received and counted by 4 pm on Friday, Aug. 26.

Driving toward Sevastopol School on Tuesday night, campaign signs for Todey and Behme, Bley and Volkmann, littered yards with greater frequency. There was a public perception that candidates were running together, the two incumbents against the two challengers. While the split result of one incumbent and one challenger may come as a surprise to the public, Todey said they didn’t know what to expect.

“Who can predict an election? I’m not that good at predicting elections. We had no idea how it was going to turn out,” Todey said following the release of the results.

Behme declined to comment after the votes had been counted.

“I’m just trying to digest this,” said Todey. “This is a very emotional issue and I guess we’ll wait and see what the official results are and go from there.”

Volkmann and Bley were not available to comment following the release of the election results. Most of the public left immediately after adjournment of the annual meeting, not staying for the election results to be released.

The recall election followed eight months of tension between the school board, Superintendent Linda Underwood and Elementary School Principal Mary Donaldson. Those calling for the recall named transparency as their primary concern, while the members of the school board felt bound to secrecy by state law governing the release of information on school personnel.

The election took place the same day as the Sevastopol School District’s annual meeting. At the meeting, after commending the school for exceeding most state standards, residents called for the school board to stop retaining Mary Gerbig of the Green Bay-based Davis Kelthau law firm.

“By providing the letter to the editor and other services, thus becoming involved in the recall issue, I would like the board to begin a search for a new legal firm to represent the district,” said a resident in the audience, reading from a sheet of paper.

Residents voted in favor of the motion to abandon attorney Gerbig, but the board is not bound to that motion. The vote is advisory and the board can choose to take action or not.

Before the election results were in, both Behme and Todey were looking forward to this eight-month long battle to end.

“I’ll be glad when it’s over,” said Behme, before the election results came in. “Personally, I see all of this as kind of the noise in the background. The school continues to be high performing. The core of the school stays in tact.”

Behme emphasized that those who sit on the school board are not necessarily the ones making Sevastopol one of the best high schools in the nation. The core of the school, steeped in good grades and bright futures, stays the same.

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