It was a little something for everybody, but not everything for anybody, in the Iowa City school district's election Tuesday. Two winners from the core of the save Hoover group and a third endorsee. Two winners from labor and a third seen as favorable. One core North Corridor Parent, and two more from the Acceptable list. Two teacher endorsees, but their Anyone But candidate winning the short term.
This mixed crew will join holdovers Chris Lynch and Brian Kirschling on a rebooted board that collectively has just four total years experience (not counting Phil Hemingway's unofficial attendance), as five incumbents step down at once.
I spent most of the day mis-interpreting turnout as "down everywhere but City High," when I should have been saying "second highest ever." Today's 7294 voters only looks weak - by school board standards, and of course 10.5% is poor by any other standard - but this year only looks weak compared to the record 8733 from two years ago.
But there definitely was an east side slant to the turnout, representing a bit of a return to the historic pattern of the east side dominating school elections. Coralville and North Liberty took a great leap forward in 2013, and still voted above historic levels today. But the edge was off.
Two wise local politicos, from opposite ends of the district, independently offered the same analysis. Now that ground has broken at Liberty High, the north end of the district has what it has wanted since at LEAST the 2003 school sales tax vote.
The spike in City High turnout was probably from the fight between the Hoover faction and the City High faction. And the Hoover faction was the winner in the two-year race, which I'll look at first because the list is shorter (here's the data).
The two year race had one of the most even three-way splits I've ever seen, 39-31-29. Save Hoover leader Chris Liebig can wear his $210 beret to a swearing in ceremony. Liebig rolled up much of his 422 vote margin at City High and in Manville Heights (the Art History precinct that used to vote at Lincoln). It wasn't because second place candidate Megan Schwalm did poorly in those places - it was because third place Paul Roesler was nearly wiped out.
Liebig also won a huge percentage in Hills, but that by-far-smallest precinct has little overall impact.
Outside those three places, it was pretty close to a third-a third-a third across the district. Liebig was a narrow winner at North Liberty, Horace Mann, Mercer, and in the absentees (which were barely half the 2013 total). Schwalm carried Coralville, West High and Twain, while Roesler finished first at Lemme, where Schwalm ran weakest.
In the full term race, LaTasha DeLoach is the night's biggest winner, winning five of the six precincts in Iowa City proper (and second at City High by just two votes). She also ran a solid second in Coralville and a competitive fourth with 47% in North Liberty. Her only weak spot was in Hills, which casts about 1% of the district's vote. LaTasha also set a new record for most votes ever for an ICCSD candidate, breaking a 20 year old record set by Marvin Lynch, who was running unopposed in a year when a bond issue boosted turnout.
The third time is the charm for Phil Hemingway. Just short in 2011 and 2013, he wins a solid second place with 48%. Phil won a whopping 88% in tiny Hills, which has historically liked outsiders. He also won the absentees. But Hemingway racked up his votes with strong seconds and thirds in Iowa City. And he improved on his past poor showings to finish fourth in Coralville, though he still underperformed in North Liberty.
Tom Yates ran just 65 votes behind Hemingway in third place. The retired City High teacher won his old school by the aforementioned two votes. He split most of the second and third places in Iowa City with Hemingway, and was in the 30% range in Coralville and North Liberty.
It was Coralville and North Liberty that won Lori Roetlin the fourth full term seat. She was first with a whopping 71% in Coralville and 57 in North Liberty, and second to DeLoach at West High. She was weak on the north and east side, with percentages in the 20s. But she ran better in Iowa City than the other North Corridor candidates, and those monster margins in Coralville and North Liberty were enough for a 466 vote win.
Before Coralville came in, it looked like a close three way race for the last seat. Brian Richman edged Jason Lewis for fifth place. Richman finished third in Manville Heights and was a solid fourth at City High. If it were the City of Iowa City School District, Richman would be a winner, though the Hoover ties didn't help at Mercer or Lemme (those precincts are City High voters, while the City High precinct has the core of the Hoover vote). As in 2013, Lewis ran best on his home turf of Twain, but it was only good enough for fourth place in one of the smaller precincts.
There's a definite next-tier gap between sixth and seventh. Todd Fanning ran a very close second to Roetlin in North Liberty, but was a weak third in Coralville and was in the teens and 20s in Iowa City. Brianna Wills in eighth place peaked with 32% at Lemme, but was in the top four nowhere. Shawn Eyestone was third in North Liberty but ran fifth, behind Phil Hemingway, in Coralville and was in single digits and low teens in Iowa City.
Then there's Lucas Van Orden, the one candidate not to raise enough money to open a committee (I did see a few signs up) and the one without backing from a significant group. He managed 11% at Lemme and was in single digits everywhere else.
So the geography played a role, but not nearly as much as 2013, where Greg Geerdes finished eighth out of nine, yet won the Manville Heights precinct.
The closest race of the night was in Solon. Ex-Hawkeye hoopster Adam Haluska won an easy victory, and 2013 loser Amber Marty lost again. The fight was for the second seat, where Jim Hauer edged incumbent Dan Coons by just three votes. Paul Deaton has a good review.