Some familiar faces are returning to the Lawrence school board.
Scott Morgan and Mary Loveland, both defeated in re-election bids four years ago, are back on the board after the voters spoke at the ballot box in Tuesday's general election.
They will join Rich Minder, the lone incumbent who helped defeat them in 2003. Minder was re-elected, finishing second behind top vote-getter Morgan. Loveland finished third. Marlene Merrill, former Lawrence school administrator now working in the Kansas City, Kan., school district, won the fourth spot.
"It's an interesting mix. That's what makes this a great country," said Morgan, who picked up 7,865 votes, or 22 percent, nearly 2,200 more votes than the No. 2 vote-getter.
Morgan and Loveland were defeated in 2003 in a backlash from voters angry at the board's decision to close some elementary schools.
"I've always been someone who could talk to people with lots of different beliefs and I enjoy that," said Morgan, 49. "I think people can sense that."
The anger over those school closings has eased because the transitions have gone well, Loveland said, who garnered 5,445 votes (15 percent).
"Education has always interested me," said Loveland, 58, a school volunteer who previously spent 16 years on the board. "I appreciate the opportunity to serve again."
Loveland, Morgan and Minder said they look forward to working together.
"I think the voters know that our hearts are in the right places and we may disagree on some issues but that doesn't mean you can't move on and work together," said Minder, 48, who finished behind Morgan with 5,668 votes, or 16 percent.
Merrill, 62, said she was excited about winning her first election for public office. She finished fourth with 5,118 votes, or 14 percent.
"I feel very humble," she said. "I'm going to work my darndest to show that (the voters') faith is justified."
Merrill retired from the Lawrence school district in 2003 after 12 years as director of assessments.
The candidates said there were no hot-button issues during the campaign.
"If we all essentially agreed on things, I think it came down to name recognition and who you thought could best represent the kids, and I guess that's how it came out," Morgan said.
Morgan, president of Morgan Quitno Press, said he thought he would be elected but was surprised that he finished first in the race among eight candidates.
"You can always quote Chumbawamba, the great anarchist band: 'I get knocked down but I get up again.' That's sort of what I feel tonight," Morgan said.
Minder said he now hopes the school district, city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce can work together on issues facing children and families, especially finding ways to support working parents and their children.
"I don't think it's purely a school issue," said Minder, a collaborative projects coordinator for Success by Six Coalition of Douglas County. "It's something we all need to do."
Michael Machell finished behind Merrill, with 4,083 votes (12 percent). He was pleased with his campaign.
"In January nobody even knew my name," said Machell, 46, human resources manager for Igenix, a health care informatics firm in Lenexa. "Even though I didn't finish in the money I felt like I had some influence on the debate.
"I'm not one to really look back," he said. "I'll be looking forward."
Does that mean he might run again?
"I don't know. We'll see," Machell said.
Trailing Machell were Victor Sisk (3,684 votes, 10 percent), Michael Pomes (1,945 votes, 5 percent), and Robert Rauktis (1,619 votes, 5 percent).
The vote counts are unofficial until canvassed later this week by Douglas County commissioners.