Inver Grove Heights School Board candidate Bill Klein’s recount request was granted by the school board. According to the Pioneer Press, on election night an incorrect vote tally was reported on the Secretary of State’s website which showed Bill Klein winning the fourth school board seat by 35 votes. However, the next day the vote tally was corrected to show Klein losing by 188 votes to Rachel Hanson. Claiming a “coding error” as the cause of the discrepancy, the school district agreed to pay to recount the votes from the November 3rd election. A hand recount completed this week showed that Klein was the fifth place finisher behind Rachel Hanson.
South Washington County School District 833 had three questions on this year’s ballot: Question One requesting a $525/student operating levy increase; Question Two: $96 million building bond for a new middle school and renovation of an existing middle school to house the Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion elementary school; and Question Three, a $46.5 million building bond for expansion of the high schools and additions to the district’s elementary schools. Question One passed, Question Three was defeated, and Question Two passed by 19 votes: well within the margin required to trigger a publicly funded recount if requested by district residents.
Starting the day after the election, the local anti-referendum group, South Washington Citizens for Progress, was contacted by many concerned SWC 833 residents, asking if the group was planning to petition for a recount of Question Two. While the members of SWC4P fully supported the recount efforts, they directed the inquiries to Cottage Grove resident, Mike Fouts, who had alerted SWC4P that he was planning to move forward with a recount request and would be accepting signatures from any eligible SWC 833 resident. Fouts submitted the recount request on November 13, 2015, only to have it rejected by the district as incomplete: the signatures were missing birth years. Fouts withdrew his request, and another Cottage Grove resident, Bev Moreland, submitted a request with 63 signatures on the petition, on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, which was accepted by the district.
When asked about the recount, SWC 833 School Board member and Vote Yes chair, Michelle Witte, told the South Washington County Bulletin “You really want to take this middle school away from kids? It’s sort of mean-spirited…What you’re really talking about is taking improvements away from kids, and that’s too bad. But … it’s everyone’s right to do that.” “This middle school” referred to by Witte is to be located in northern Cottage Grove and is to serve the children from that area along with Newport and St. Paul Park, who currently attend Oltman Middle School in St. Paul Park. According to the Secretary of State, the precincts in St. Paul Park, Newport and all but one in Cottage Grove overwhelmingly voted “No” on Question Two.
The recount will take place in Room 13 starting at 9am on Friday, November 20, 2015, at the Washington County Government Center in Stillwater. The public is welcome to attend.