Red Cedar opponents narrowly win EL school board race

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Voters from East Lansing Precinct No. 2 turn in their ballots at Martin Luther Chapel Tuesday afternoon.

Ryan Cole

Voters from East Lansing Precinct No. 2 turn in their ballots at Martin Luther Chapel Tuesday afternoon.

With only 42 votes separating third place from fourth, incumbents Erin Graham and Hillary Henderson as well as newcomer Kyle Guerrant won seats in the East Lansing school board election  Seven ran for the three spots. The winners will serve  four-year terms.

Graham received the most votes with 6,810, or 18.21 percent. Henderson followed with 6,240 votes (16.69 percent), while Guerrant totalled 5,626 votes (15.05 percent).

Just missing the cut was Nichole Martin, who received 5,584 votes (14.94 percent). She was followed by incumbent Kath Edsall, Mike Conlin and Robert Clark. A total of 190 write-in votes were cast out of the 37,388 ballots citywide.

The most heavily debated matter for the candidates was the plan for repurposing Red Cedar Elementary School. The closing was approved on Nov. 26, 2012. The council plans to spend $565,000 on the building, making it into a new K-5 STEM school.

Winning incumbents  Henderson and Guerrant opposed  reopening the school, located on Narcissus Drive near Harrison and Trowbridge Roads.

“Most likely what the results say is that residents are open to doing something with Red Cedar Elementary, but are not ready to make it K-5 at the moment,” said Henderson, who was elected to the board in 2011.

Graham, an assistant history professor at Michigan State University, would not state a definitive position on the school in her campaign.

“I don’t have a position on it as of now other than we shouldn’t sell it,” said Graham. “I think enough voters agreed with that idea; there was enough consensus that we shouldn’t sell it.”

After traveling door-to-door talking with residents, Graham concluded there are many issues facing the board more important than the school.

“I ran on issues to offer more intellectually rigorous classes for students and to give more support for teachers,” said Graham.

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