LP-A school points 'North': School board appoints Audubon woman to fill seat vacated by resignation

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Though she did not win one of the five open seats on the Lake Park-Audubon School Board in the Nov. 8 general election, Amanda "Mande" North will nevertheless be sworn in for a one-year term at the board's 2017 organizational meeting on Jan. 3.

On a 4-2 vote, North was appointed Monday to fill the seat vacated by board member Rich Veit on Aug. 31, after he resigned from the board to accept a teaching position with the district. Because his resignation came too late to include his seat on the ballot in November, the board opted to fill the position by appointment.

North's appointment on Monday was not unanimous, however. Board members Bryan Anderson and Darrel Pederson had indicated that they would prefer to appoint Jayde Carlson.

In November, Carlson was one of five candidates seeking three open, four-year positions on the board, while North was one of four candidates seeking two open, two-year terms. Respectively, Carlson received 19.6 percent (1,154 votes) of the total number of votes within the five-candidate pool, while North received 24.5 percent (1,004 votes) in the four-candidate pool.

The dissension arose from the fact that Superintendent Dale Hogie had distributed a statistical comparison of the vote totals earned by both Carlson and North that LP-A math teacher Dana Robinson had done, at Hogie's request.

In his written analysis, Robinson said, "It doesn't look like it would be helpful to weight their percentages based on 'potential votes' because there is no way of telling how many potential votes there were per candidate pool."

However, he noted, it would be possible to consider what percentage of the remaining overall votes they would have received once the totals received by the actual winners were eliminated.

"For instance, after the top three are taken out of the five-candidate pool, there are 1,998 votes remaining," Robinson wrote. "Jayde Carlson received 1,154 of those remaining votes, or 0.5776 (58 percent). Likewise, for Amanda North, 1,004 out of 1,933 equals 0.5194 (52 percent)."

The motion to appoint North to fill the position was made first, and earned a majority vote.

Before the vote was taken, board member Cara Bjerken had also said that she would like to nominate Anderson, with his eight years of experience. Anderson, however, immediately withdrew his name from consideration, noting that he had not received enough votes on Nov. 8 to win re-election and he therefore "did not feel comfortable" with the idea of extending his term via appointment. He also noted that both North and Carlson had received more votes than he did in the election.

Earlier in the meeting, newly elected board members Skye Bjerke and Marvin Vareberg were sworn in to their positions. They were not required to wait until January because they were elected to two-year positions via a special election, to fill seats that had been vacated by resignation.

Longtime board member Vicky Grondahl had resigned on Aug. 31 after making plans to move out of the district. Board member Sean Degerstrom, meanwhile, had resigned in 2015 after accepting a job in Grand Forks,N.D., and his seat was temporarily filled by Dale Binde, who was appointed to the position until the next general election could be held.

North will now be sworn in on Jan. 3 along with elected four-year board members Corey Askin, Mark Johnson and incumbent Pederson.