Apr 07, 2021 2:23 AM

Voters reject St. Joseph school bond issue; oust all school board incumbents

Posted Apr 07, 2021 2:23 AM

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Voters soundly rejected the $107 million St. Joseph school bond issue, dashing hopes to convert the American Family Insurance regional headquarters into a second high school to go along with a refurbished Central High School.

Under the proposal, Benton High School and Lafayette High School would have been turned into middle schools as the district ended the three-high school model in favor of a new two-high school model.

All three incumbents on the St. Joseph School Board lost in a crowded field.

The bond issue drew little support. Only 4,573 voters cast ballots in favor of it while 8,330 voted against it; a split of 64.56% opposed to 35.44% in favor, according to unofficial election results reported by the Buchanan County Clerk’s office.

A very vocal opponent to the bond issue, Kenneth Reeder, led the crowded field for three St. Joseph school board seats, receiving 4,982 votes, according to unofficial results. David Foster came in second with 4,876 votes and LaTonya Williams took the third school board seat, receiving 4,200 votes. St. Joseph School Board Vice President Lute Atieh came in fourth behind Colby Oyerly. Atieh garnered only 3,921 votes. Incumbent Larry Koch finished fifth with 3,267 votes with Rick Gehring, who had been appointed to replace Seth Wright after he left, finished last with 3,151 votes. Michelle Traster, who mounted a last-minute write-in campaign, receiving 1,754 votes.

In total, 13,450 votes were cast in the election, 26.7% of the registered voters in Buchanan County, better than the 20% turnout projected by Buchanan County Clerk Mary Baack-Garvey.

Click here for full election results from the Buchanan County Clerk's office.