Next month for what is believed to be the first time in history, the Lyons Township High School District 204 Board of Education will have five members who are women.
The LTHS school board last had a majority of women, four female board members, in the early 1990s said Jennifer Bialobok, the community relations manager for LTHS.
On April 2, three women were elected to LTHS school board, outdistancing the two male candidates.
First-time candidates Alison Kelly and Kari Dillon led the way and incumbent Barbara Rosinsky picked up the third spot up for grabs. Trailing behind were two-term incumbent Phil Palmer and newcomer Ricardo Martinez Jr.
“I definitely say it was a winning night for women last night, all round,” Dillon said. “I do think that shows promise, not that women are better than men in this case, but sometimes maybe it means we’re just looking for some different perspectives, and I think that’s good.”
Kelly and Rosinsky ran on an informal slate with Palmer, yet Kelly led the field with 4,217 votes and Rosinsky finished third with 3,358 votes, more than 306 votes ahead of Palmer who ended up with 3,052 votes. Dillon finished second with 3,966 votes.
“I was kind of shocked, actually,” said Rosinsky when asked why she thought she finished well ahead of Palmer. “I’m not sure, because we were kind of on a slate together with Alison.”
Kelly comes from a large family that has lived in LaGrange for a long time. She and five of her siblings graduated from LTHS and she has had 22 family members graduate from LTHS.
Dillon, an Indian Head Park resident, said that she wasn’t sure how big a factor being a woman was in the race and wasn’t sure why she ran so far ahead of Martinez, who finished last with 2,446 votes. Both campaigned, to different degrees, as outsiders ready to shake up the status quo.
“It’s kind of a mystery to me,” Dillon said. “I think with local elections it’s a little bit harder sometimes to pinpoint how things are going to go. The turnouts are so low so you’re kind of relying on a very small pool of people to be making these decisions.”
Total voter turnout for the LTHS race was just 14 percent.
Palmer, an LTHS graduate who lives in Western Springs, had served for one term on the LaGrange Highlands Elementary School District 106 school board before serving two terms on the LTHS board. It was the first time he’s lost an election.
“I’m disappointed,” Palmer said the days after the election. “Obviously, I like serving on the LT board and that’s certainly something I was planning on doing for at least another four years.”
Palmer said he didn’t know why he ran behind Kelly and Rosinsky, saying there could be a host of factors, including ballot position.
“The people that won are all very good people with their heart in the right spot and they’re going to do a great job,” Palmer said.
Dillon said she spent about $1,000 on her campaign, had a campaign Facebook page, and went door to door talking to voters.
Martinez, a 34-year-old resident of Western Springs who is married to a LTHS teacher, ran perhaps the most aggressive campaign. He said LTHS should speedily install air conditioning throughout both its buildings, which are now only partially air conditioned. He also called for the district to sell a 70-acre piece of vacant land it owns in Willow Springs and called for the school to give every student a laptop computer.
He went door to door for nearly two months and estimated that he knocked on more than 1,000 doors. The morning after the election, Martinez said that perhaps he called for more change than many voters could handle.
“As I reflect this morning, running an aggressive, change advocacy platform, with two months of campaigning was probably ambitious,” Martinez said.