Facing major changes in public education the next four years, Douglas County school board incumbents Karen Chessell and Teri Jamin secured their seats by comfortable margins in Tuesday's election.
Jamin won her third and final term representing School Board Area 5 with 9,985 votes, or 53.22 percent, compared to challenger Larry Lippmann's total of 8,777 votes, or 46.78 percent.
On Wednesday, Jamin said she attended book club on election night because she was so nervous awaiting results. She said her husband called her during the club meeting and informed her of the outcome.
"I feel so fortunate and excited to be on the board for four more years," she said. "I look forward to working with fellow board members, staff, parents and the community as a whole to raise student achievement to even higher heights. This is an exciting time in the district."
Jamin thanked her husband for putting up and taking down her campaign signs.
"He has been a great support," she said.
She also wished her "worthy opponent" success in the future.
"I would encourage him to continue to be involved and continue to provide input on issues up for board discussion," she said. "He has a lot of experience and expertise to lend to the board, and I hope he feels comfortable doing that."
Lippmann was disappointed with the results but wished Jamin luck in the future as well.
"I'm disappointed but want to congratulate Teri Jamin," he said Wednesday. "She is a great public servant, and the district and the county will be well-represented."
Lippmann had some parting words about the current state of education.
"I want to finish with teachers, who I think are generally underappreciated. I don't think people have a clear understanding of how hard the job is," he said. "I just wish in the future, the school board as a whole would recognize the quality and commitment of our teachers in Douglas County and act accordingly."
Chessell won her second full term representing School Board Area 1 with 10,879 votes, or 57.74 percent, compared to challenger Ron Santi's 7,962 or 42.26 percent.
In October, Santi discontinued his campaign for personal reasons.
"I'm just very excited about the opportunity to serve again," Chessell said Wednesday. "Even though I read that Ron was not continuing his campaign, I felt like he would still be in the race because he missed the deadline. So I just continued to campaign as if I had an opponent. I was surprised at the number of votes I got, and it's nice at least to feel that citizens are confident I can do a good job for four more years."
Chessell said she's excited to continue ongoing projects, such as "bringing ninth-graders back to the high school and implementing Common Core State Standards."
As for her opponent, Chessell said he has served the district well as an active parent and citizen.
"I think he's a fine man," she said. "I wish him all the best."
In the race for School Board Area 4, retired educator Neal Freitas bested former trustee John Louritt with 9,999 votes to 8,412 votes, or 54.31 percent to 45.69 percent.
"I'm extremely pleased and happy that I got elected," Freitas said Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think the next four years will be challenging for the school district to maintain the quality that has always been there."
Despite such challenges, Freitas remains optimistic.
"Working through those hard times, we might have to tighten our belts," he said. "But at the same time, we have to be optimistic about the future."
Freitas said he has nothing but respect for his opponent.
"I have nothing but the utmost respect for John serving on the board for eight years," he said. "He definitely has the background, experience and wisdom, and I hope I can do the same."
Louritt was likewise gracious on Wednesday.
"I'm disappointed I lost, but I would like to thank the people who voted for me," he said. "I wish Neal well. He'll probably do a fine job. He's qualified."
Louritt said that Freitas called him to congratulate him.
"I would hope he would continue on with the vision of the board, and provide leadership in the future," he said.