Home school advantage launches hopes of D97 school candidates

? Local connections within home districts explain candidates' electoral victories and resident voting patterns.

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By JOHN YOO

April 5 election results for the District 97 Board of Education show candidates performed well within their home districts, where they know more people from being involved.

"I think it's a question of name recognition," said Carolyn Newberry Schwartz, an incumbent who won 6,900 votes, the most in the race and more than 1,000 more than the second highest candidate.

"If you've been involved, you're going to get a lot of recognition and you have a presence in your area," she said.

Holmes Elementary School District is the largest district and has the most registered voters. So, the majority of votes cast there represent the majority of votes each candidate obtained.

Not withstanding, each candidate also obtained many of their votes from precincts within their home districts.

Peter Barber was the third-best vote-getter and was elected to the board. He won the highest percentage of his votes?#34;20 percent?#34;from precincts in the Holmes School district, followed by 17 percent of his votes from precincts in the Beye School district, where he resides.

The rest of the candidates, except for Newberry Schwartz, who won well-rounded support from all districts, saw a similar trend, winning the majority of their votes in Holmes district and the second highest percentage of their votes in their respective home districts: Vic Guarino in Irving and Longfellow and Kathryn Tortorice in Lincoln. 

Julie Blankemeier won the majority of her votes in her home district, which happens to be Holmes.

Newberry Schwartz said being involved in her community?#34;from talking to parents on her way to pick up her kids to participating in community discussion forums?#34;allowed other members of the community an opportunity to work with her and know her in person.

Guarino agreed.

"We [Mr. and Mrs. Guarino] are very active in school activities and organizing community events," he said, adding this helped boost local recognition.

Most candidates are also members of various community organizations such as Parent Teacher Organizations and the Thatcher Woods Savanna Restoration Project.

But for most candidates, it's not about bolstering reputation for the sake of being elected; it is about showing dedication and commitment over time and letting the word spread by itself.


Close to home
Distribution of votes according to elementary school districts for each candidate. Candidates home schools are in bold.

Carolyn Newberry Schwartz
Whittier
10%
Mann 11%
Longfellow 15%
Lincoln 14%
Irving 8%
Holmes 21%
Hatch 7%
Beye 14%

Vic Guarino
Whittier 7%
Mann 10%
Longfellow 17%
Lincoln 14%
Irving 15%
Holmes 20%
Hatch 6%
Beye 11%

Julie Blankemeier
Whittier 8%
Mann 12%
Longfellow 15%
Lincoln 14%
Irving 8%
Holmes 22%
Hatch 8%
Beye 13%

Peter Barber
Whittier 9%
Mann 11%
Longfellow 15%
Lincoln 13%
Irving 8%
Holmes 20%
Hatch 7%
Beye 17%

Kathryn Tortorice
Whittier 10%
Mann 9%
Longfellow 15%
Lincoln 18%
Irving 8%
Holmes 21%
Hatch 7%
Beye 12%

**Note: Precincts that belong to two or more school districts were arbitrarily placed into one district.

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