Eight candidates ran for the four open seats on the Ann Arbor Board of Education and Tuesday’s election was extremely close with a split between incumbents and newcomers. Incumbents Jessica Kelly and Susan Baskett will return to the Board of Education for new terms.
They will be joined by Rebecca Lazarus and Bryan L. Johnson, who both earned first-time seats on the BOE.
The four-year terms begin Jan. 1, 2019.
Kelly garnered the most votes with 29,799 and 15.65 percent.
Kelly, 40, was appointed in December 2016. She said she has been proud of the perspective she brings to conversations about meeting the diverse needs of students.
“My history of activism and advocacy have helped inform the implementation of the 3rd Grade Reading law, the way we approach disparities in achievement, in the way we think about discipline, and in the way we consider the quality of work life for our teachers and staff,” she said.
Lazarus was a very close second in the voting with 28,987 votes and 15.22 percent.
Lazarus, 54, has lived in Ann Arbor for over eight years and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
“I feel there is a need and the opportunity for our board to be more responsive and more progressive in delivering high-quality services and support to our students, teachers, and principals,” said Lazarus, the mother of two children who attend AAPS. “I will bring a curious transparency to the board so the district can be more proactive in how we address student, family, and teacher concerns. I will also use my business management experience to ensure the district spends our tax dollars wisely while keeping a focus on reducing wasteful spending.”
Bryan L. Johnson was third overall in the voting with 27,541 votes and 14.46 percent.
Johnson, 43, attended Ann Arbor Public Schools (Abbott Elementary, Forsythe Jr. High School and Pioneer High School) and has a BS in Business Management from Hampton University and an MBA from the Michigan Ross School of Business.
“I want to help more kids who grew up like me to use education to meet their full potential,” said Johnson, whose wife is a teacher and has two kids attending AAPS. “This is the right time because my daughters are no longer small children and they can help around the house as I work on board duties.”
Baskett was fourth with 23,489 votes and 12.33 percent.
Baskett, 58, has served on the Board of Education for 15 years. She said there are many things she has been proud of accomplishing as a member of the BOE. Two of the most recent include:
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. “We are the first district in Michigan to have the full IB curriculum, including the Career-related option,” she said. “I personally visited other districts to see how all students can benefit from the IB curriculum. This is a great addition to our smorgasbord of academic choices in AAPS.” She also is proud that the district has reduced student suspensions by 48 percent over the last seven years.
Lucas T. Cole was a very close fifth in Tuesday’s voting with 23,342 votes and 12.26 percent and incumbent Christine Stead was sixth with 21,018 votes and 11.04 percent.
Incumbent Patricia Ashford Manley was next with 18,284 votes (9.6 percent) followed by Suzanne Perkins with 17,383 votes (9.13 percent).