Voters pick Mike & Mike
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · September 13, 2013

Voters on Tuesday selected Mike Colbert and Mike Owen for two open seats on the West Branch Board of Education.

Of 491 votes cast, Colbert garnered the most votes with 382, or 42.68 percent of the vote; with Owen coming in second with 360, 40.22 percent; and Norman Bickford finishing with 141; 15.75 percent. There were 12 write-in votes.

Owen will begin his third term on the board; this will be Colbert’s first time on the school board.

“I’m thrilled to win, to get busy, get my hands dirty and get work done,” Colbert said Tuesday night, minutes after the Cedar County Auditor’s office released unofficial results. “I’m excited with the public having a choice (in candidates) and that they have decided to keep going and to be progressive.”

Owen said he was humbled by the results.

“I appreciate the support by so many people,” he said. “The turnout was pretty good. (Though) I always like to see more in school races.”

Owen said he believes voters “want to move the district forward, to continue on the path we’re going.”

“That was pretty clear to me talking to the people in the campaign,” he said. “They wanted us to keep moving ahead.”

Owen agreed with Colbert, saying he appreciated a contested race.

“And I really look forward to serving with Mike,” Owen said. “I think he’ll be an excellent board member.”

Colbert said he was grateful to the time school board member Carolyn Harold, who chose not to run for re-election, gave to the district.

“I’d like to thank Carolyn for her service and all that she did,” he said.

Owen said that, while campaigning, district residents told him the school board should “stay focused on student achivement and a better climate for learning.”

“That’s a job that’s never done,” he said. “We’ve made progress, but there’s a lot more to do.”

Colbert said he did most of his campaigning on Facebook, but did attend the Parent-Teacher Organization’s Meet the Candidate Night.

He said voters expressed concerns about Hoover Elementary appearing on the No Child Left Behind Schools In Need of Assistance list, indicating the district fell behind on reading and math scores.

“They talked about things we could do … (like) tutoring, and some specific things to address,” he said.”It’s important going forward to get our numbers up as high as we can.”

Colbert added that he is “excited to see what comes from the facilities committee” as far as building and improvement suggestions. He also wants to keep the 1-to-1 laptop initiative going. He also said he thinks Standards-Based Grading has good science and theory behind it, and he wants to implement it in a way that “makes sense for West Branch.”

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