It was close again, but this time Pamela Johnson wins Pequot Lakes School Board seat
She lost seat by 19 votes in 2020 several days after being told she'd won
PEQUOT LAKES — Pamela Johnson was hesitant to accept the Pequot Lakes School Board election results before the canvassing board finalized them.
That’s because she was announced a school board winner in 2020, only to find out days later that she really lost by 19 votes.
That year, because of COVID-19, absentee ballots were allowed to be counted for up to seven days after the election if they were postmarked before Election Day. Those late ballots changed the initial results.
This time around, Johnson won the third open seat in the Nov. 8 election by 31 votes, after receiving 1,773 votes.
Incumbents Tracy Wallin and Dena Moody captured the other two four-year seats. Wallin was the top vote-getter with 2,429 votes. Moody garnered 2,274 votes.
The race featured nine candidates for the three seats. Other candidates were Mariah Hines, 1,742 votes; Jacob Cameron, 1,297; Bryan Held, 1,218; Erik Bresnahan, 1,154; Brian Hankins, 1,039; and Craig Polchow, 739.
There were 37 write-in votes.
The race for that third school board seat was close most of the night Tuesday, Nov. 8, before election results stopped updating in the early hours Wednesday, Nov. 9, with two precincts left to report.
We had so many great community members running so it was all going to be good no matter what for our community.
In the end, Johnson narrowly edged Hines.
“We had so many great community members running so it was all going to be good no matter what for our community,” Johnson said. “I’m elated that the community has chosen me. What we were speaking to, the people were receptive to.”
Johnson said the candidates have reached out to each other, including Hines.
“We were all in this together,” she said.
Moving forward, Johnson is excited to work to get students refocused on academics, as well as to continue work on the district’s facilities planning project after having attended those meetings.
“So I’m looking forward to being on the other side of it now and seeing it through,” she said. “The school district is making great gains and I’m excited to be on board with more of it.”
Johnson and her husband, Kent, have four children - three at Pequot Lakes Schools in grades three, six and eight, as well as a college graduate.
Both Wallin and Moody were first elected to the board in 2018.
We have an outstanding school district and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue building on that tradition of excellence.
In an emailed statement, Wallin shared “a big thank you to the district voters for your tremendous support throughout the election and for your vote.”
“We have an outstanding school district and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue building on that tradition of excellence,” Wallin said. “I am excited to continue serving and representing the students, staff and residents of our district.
“I am eager to work on the facilities maintenance and strategic plans as we address the future wants and needs of our schools. I am proud to be a Patriot!” she said.
I felt this election was very divisive. There were too many personal and/or political agendas vying for three nonpartisan seats on the school board.
Moody said in an emailed statement that it was a relief to have the campaigning and election over.
“I felt this election was very divisive,” she said. “There were too many personal and/or political agendas vying for three nonpartisan seats on the school board. As a school district, it seemed that we took several steps backward, just when we were moving positively forward from the crisis and chaos of the pandemic years.”
Moody said her main goal is to not be part of the problem, but part of the solution.
“Our district has completed its facilities planning study this fall. Now we have that valuable input from our staff and community members to guide us as we begin our long-overdue strategic planning,” she said. “Being fiscally responsible with state and federal funding and our taxpayers' money is high on my priority list as well.”
Moody’s primary focus remains doing what is right and relevant for all students in the district, which, she said, includes preparing them to go out into the world with purpose, vital life and work skills, and the confidence to face the inevitable challenges of living in the 21st century.
“My heartfelt thanks to the voters in ISD 186 for giving me this opportunity once again to serve our communities as a school board member,” she said. “Be assured, I take the responsibilities that come with this position very seriously. I'm proud to be a Patriot!”
Incumbent school board member Derrek Johnson opted not to seek re-election.
Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or email@example.com . Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.