Sara Dixon Spivy decided to run for another term on the Oak Park and River Forest High School Board of Education after all. Just 18 days after she told Wednesday Journal that she wasn’t intending to run for another term on the school board, the two term OPRF school board member filed nominating petitions to run for a third term late on Monday afternoon eight minutes before the filing deadline. Dixon Spivy did not immediately respond to an email sent to her OPRF email address asking why she changed her mind and decided to run after all.
Also filing to run for the OPRF school board in the April election were newcomers Tim Brandhorst of River Forest and Oak Parkers Graham Brisben, Jonathan Livingston and Brian Souders so there will be five candidates battling for three seats on the OPRF school board.
Incumbents Gina Harris and Ralph Martire are both stepping down after one term on the OPRF school board.
On Tuesday morning, the Cook County Clerk’s office announced it was still processing some petitions for school board seats across the county. Final rosters of candidates will not be available until after the Journal’s print deadline.
Brandhorst and Souders have both been frequent letter writers to Wednesday Journal’s Viewpoints section but have very different perspectives. Brandhorst, an attorney who primarily represents non-fiction book authors, was a member of the Imagine OPRF working group and has been an outspoken supporter of the $99.4 million Project 2 construction plan.
“I really am committed to ensuring that every student, every faculty member is provided with the learning spaces that they need and that are appropriate for today’s educational needs,” Brandhorst told Wednesday Journal in a telephone interview. “I also want to ensure that OPRF has learning spaces that are flexible enough that they’ll be suitable for learning needs in coming decades, not just for today.”
In 2016 Brandhorst voted against the $44 million referendum to build a new swimming pool that was narrowly defeated. He said he wasn’t comfortable with the process that led to that proposal.
“In 2016, I think I, like a lot of people, was really uncertain about the process that the district followed,” Brandhorst said. “It may have been a great solution but I knew it wasn’t a great process.”
Brandhorst said the work of the Imagine OPRF working group that was created after the defeat of the 2016 referendum was rigorous, transparent and inclusive.
“I think that people can have a huge degree of confidence in the process that we followed to arrive at this solution” Brandhorst said.
Brandhorst said he would like the school board to look at all funding options for Project 2 and spell out the pros and cons of each method.
Brandhorst, 56, has two children, one of whom graduated from OPRF last year and one who is currently a senior at OPRF.
He says he wants to continue the equity work begun by the current school board.
“I really do admire the progress the board has made in the last few years on the equity front and I would dearly love to continue that progress,” Brandhorst said.
Souders, a freelance marketing professional who is the father of two current OPRF students, believes OPRF has overtaxed residents and has been a critic of the Project 2 plan saying that it is too expensive.
In an email Souders said “he is running to ensure every student’s OPRF experience enriches their lives; to work rebuilding the district’s trust with the community, especially through transparency, communications and finances; and to address facility needs in a pragmatic way.”
Brisben served on the Oak Park District 97 school board from 2013 to 2017. In 2019 he ran for the Oak Park Village Board but finished last in an 11-candidate field. He is the founder and CEO of a logistics and supply chain consulting firm.
Wednesday Journal could not immediately find information about Livingston.
The Oak Park Elementary District 97 school board races appear to be uncontested with incumbents Jung Kim, Gavin Kearney, Cheree Moore, and Holly Spurlock running for reelection and newcomer Colleen Burns running for a two-year term on the school board.
In River Forest District 90 five candidates will fight it out for three seats on the school board. The candidates are incumbent Cal Davis, and newcomers Ayesha Ahmad, Joseph Cortese III, Kristine Mackey and Eric Isenberg.