NORMAL — Two incumbents and two newcomers will be seated on the McLean County Unit 5 school board after securing two- and four-year terms in Tuesday’s election.

Incumbent Joseph Cleary of Normal and newcomers David Fortner of Carlock and Taunia Leffler of Bloomington earned four-year seats on the board. Incumbent Meta Mickens-Baker of Bloomington was elected to serve a two-year term. 

They were chosen from five candidates to join the board.

In the only contested race, a result of congressional township laws designed to assure geographic diversity, Leffler defeated Solomon "Sol" Roberts-Lieb.

Leffler, a program manager at State Farm, earned 5,458 votes, and Roberts-Lieb, an associate director for pedagogy strategy at the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at the University of Illinois, received 2,866 votes. 

Mickens-Baker, an enterprise recruiter at State Farm, ran uncontested and collected 8,306 votes.

Cleary, an instructional assistant professor of construction management and professional practice coordinator for Illinois State University’s Department of Technology, and Fortner, a data integration specialist at Integrity Schools, also secured seats with no opposition. Cleary earned 5,386 votes and Fortner earned 5,196 votes.

Erik Bush of Normal left the race prior to the election, but his name was still listed on the ballot and he received 3,522 votes.

Two seats were made available by Gail Ann Briggs and John Puzauskas, both of whom didn't run for re-election. Briggs served since 1976, and Puzauskas joined the board in 2005.

All candidates said maintaining a balanced district budget despite delayed payments from the state is one of the biggest challenges for Unit 5. The state has yet to issue $6 million in expected categorical payments to the district.

The Normal-based district is the largest in McLean County, serving about 13,751 students in Carlock, Hudson, Towanda and Bloomington and Normal. 

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer


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