News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 5, 2008

Incumbents easily win school board seats

By Sue Loughlin

Three Vigo County School Board incumbents readily won re-election Tuesday.

In District 1, Mel Burks and Jackie Lower retained their seats, defeating Larry Faulkner. In unofficial results, Lower had 24,321 votes, Burks, 19,253, and Faulkner, 11,383.

In District 3, incumbent Paul Lockhart won a fifth (nonconsecutive) term, defeating Don Gamble. Lockhart had 20,714 votes and Gamble had 10,741.

Burks said he’s grateful for the community’s support in giving him a fourth term. He wants to work on such issues as eliminating ISTEP at the state level and improving teacher salaries. “I think teachers deserve more than what they are getting,” he said.

Lower won her first election Tuesday. In May 2005, she was nominated by the School Board to finish the term of her late husband, Jack Lower, who died after serving only 4 1⁄2 months on the board.

Initially Tuesday, as she watched results on one of the television stations, it showed her losing the election by a significant margin. “I thought, well, this is surprising. You never know,” she said. She was happy to learn those initial results were a mistake.

“I just really appreciate the support from the teachers, parents and community and their vote of confidence,” she said. “I hope I continue to live up to their expectations.”

Over the next few years, the school district will have to focus on remaining stable financially, she said. She’s concerned about recent changes in how public schools are funded.

Faulkner said he was somewhat surprised by the number of votes he received. “I think I’ve run a good race and I’ve been clean on my end. I got my message across and it will help in the future if I seek office again,” he said.

He attributes the number of votes he received to a large number of faith-based voters in the area “who want to support a faith-based campaign.”

In the District 3 race, Lockhart won his fifth term, while Gamble was seeking elective office for the first time.

Lockhart said he’s excited and happy to win re-election. “I love what I do. It’s just gratifying to have this opportunity to serve for four more years,” he said.

He thanked those who voted for him and those who worked on his campaign.

“It’s a great school district and a supportive community. I’ll continue to work to make our schools the best they can be for our students,” he said.

He agrees with Lower that one of the biggest challenges over the next few years will be school funding.

Gamble said it appears voters sent a message “that the School Board seems to be in pretty good hands … people in Vigo County are pretty happy with Paul Lockhart and I congratulate him.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.