By Irum Ibrahim
Entirely East Lansing
In Tuesday’s East Lansing School Board election, a referendum on the closing of Red Cedar Elementary, two of four seats were won by candidates who had spoken out against the closing. There were eight candidates in the race: Joe Borgstrom, Yasmina Bouraoui, David Gott, Kyle Guerrant, Karen Hoene, Neil Kuhnmuench, Kate Powers and Jeffrey C. Wray.
The winners included Powers with 3,919 votes, Hoene with 3,703, Bouraoui with 3,681 and Kuhnmuench with 3,641. Of the four winners, Hoene and Kuhnmuench announced that they did not support the closing of Red Cedar Elementary and were open to programming events in the school.
Additionally, candidate Wray was not in support of the closing either. He said that ramifications of the decision are still being seen, specifically in a difficulty to move forward.
“Now, the question is, how do you bring a community together that is divided amongst the educated? It must include some kind of remedy involving Red Cedar,” said Wray.
The highly anticipated mid-term election came and went like a swift breeze on Nov. 4.
One regular absentee voter and graduate student, Jeffrey Astrein, said that he noticed more enthusiasm at the polls this year in comparison to last, specifically in regard to the school board elections.
“I think the closing of Red Cedar Elementary is one thing that fueled the intensity of the school board elections,” he said. “There are a lot of news articles that are saying that they want to reopen the school, however, I haven’t heard that by word of mouth. I think it’s more speculation than facts.”
Bouraoui, who has not take a position on Red Cedar Elementary as the two other winners have, said that the elections do not target Red Cedar Elementary in particular and she does not see them impacting the school.
“The decisions have already been made and during these times of decision making, there was word mentioned about finding educational programming in Red Cedar Elementary,” said Bouraoui. “If anything, these elections will shows us how serious the board is about educational equity and the closing of the achievement gap.”
This year’s school board elections had a higher turnout than previous years, with 25, 752 votes. Some voters argue that social media has played a role in the increase in number.
“From the standpoint of the younger generation, social media has been able to do a lot,” said graduate student and regular voter Brian Reinerth. “When I decide to tune in and plug in, I’ll see someone who has a link to a news article or someone who will mention voting. I think that tends to spark curiosity and inform others, in a way.”
Powers, Hoene, Bouraoui and Kuhnmuench will join the school board in January 2015.