Newcomers beat incumbents in District 86

Two pairs of running mates defeat three sitting board members for four open seats

Hinsdale’s Jeff Waters, the top vote-getter among 10 candidates in the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board race, according to unofficial election results, said he is elated for all four winners in Tuesday’s election.

“It’s unfortunate that more seats weren’t available, because there were a lot of quality candidates running,” he said.

He sees the choice of four newcomers as indicative of voters’ discontent with the current board. He and running mate Peggy James, along with Debbie Levinthal and Terri Walker, who also ran as a team, were elected Tuesday. All four are from Hinsdale.

None of the three incumbents — board President Kevin Camden and members TJ Edwards and Marty Turek — were re-elected.

“I think it was, to a certain extent, a mandate,” Waters said.

Edwards, who was appointed to the board last year and came in fifth, said it was difficult being “lumped” in the category of incumbent.

“I tried as hard as I could to speak from my perspective and provide insight into how I think,” she said.” It was just a struggle.”

Waters and James, who earned the second-highest vote total, credited their message and their marketing with their success.

“I think we struck a chord with the community,” James said. “I think we had great conversations with the community members we spoke with. I think our message resonated.”

Walker said the same was true for her and Levinthal.

“It was great to have an opportunity to speak with many voters throughout the process and have lots of one-on-one conversations,” she said. “I think our message about maintaining the high standards of academic excellence and support resonated with the voters.”

Levinthal said she was excited and humbled to be elected.

“We had an outpouring of support from friends and neighbors in the community,” she said. “I’m honored at the opportunity to serve.”

She agreed the victory was related to the message shared throughout the campaign — “making sure we are doing all we can for all learners in District 86 and making sure they have all the opportunities and supports and tools they need to be successful.”

Edwards, who will end up serving on the board for only nine months, said she will continue to be involved and serve on district committees as a parent.

“It just changes who sits in the seats, not the work we do as a district,” she said. “I plan to be there and do everything I can to graciously support them in their transition.”

The new candidates will be seated at a special May 3 reorganization meeting.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean