Loveland, Harmon win school board primary, will face off in April 7 general election

Mary Loveland and Marcel Harmon

Mary Loveland and Marcel Harmon, the two candidates with experience serving on the Lawrence school board, beat out their two other opponents in Tuesday’s primary election for a two-year term on the district’s governing body.

Loveland, a 20-year board veteran who last had a seat in 2011, and Harmon, who was appointed to the board last summer after another member resigned, will go head to head in the April 7 election.

They defeated Norine Spears, a self-employed graphic artist, and Kelly Spurgeon, a program consultant at the Kansas State Department of Education.

Also on the ballot for April 7 will be seven other candidates vying for four other seats for four-year terms.

Unofficial counts had Loveland leading the way with 2,698 votes, followed by Harmon, 2,194; Spurgeon, 1,545; and Spears, 1,393. On the night, a total of 8,696 voters cast ballots in the primaries, a turnout of about 14 percent.

“I’m honored and appreciative of people’s confidence in me,” Loveland said. “I’m pretty excited. It’s an indicator they were reasonably comfortable with my service in the past.”

Loveland added she was “really impressed” with the other three candidates and did not enter the evening feeling confident.

Harmon said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome.

“I’m obviously pretty happy about it,” he said. “I think (voters) think what I’ve done (on the board) has been useful.”

Spears and Spurgeon were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Loveland, 66, served on the board from 1987 to 2003. After supporting the closure of several schools, she was voted out in 2003, but won a seat back in 2007, serving until 2011. She declined to run after that term with the health of her late husband in decline. Outside the school board she’s worked as a homemaker and an active community volunteer.

Loveland has said she is running without an agenda or cause, other than the general importance of ensuring a quality education for children. She cites her experience on the board and her knowledge of the district as an asset.

Last summer, Harmon, 47, was chosen over Loveland by the school board’s other six members to fill in a vacated seat. Harmon is an applied anthropologist for M.E. Group, where he studies how people interact with buildings. He has volunteered for several local school groups and spent two years on the statewide Kansas Next Generation Science Standard Review Committee.

Harmon has said he can lend his engineering expertise to the ongoing $92.5 million undertaking that will improve every school building in the district. He’s also said that he will advocate on behalf of Lawrence schools to state legislators.

The seven candidates running for the four-year seats are Jessica Beeson, a director of alumni and community engagement at KU; Bob Byers, an administrator for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, who first joined the board in 2009; Jill Fincher, a Lawrence Schools Foundation board member; Lindsey Frye, a medical claims collector; Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross, a health care IT professional; Rick Ingram, a Kansas University professor of clinical psychology, who was elected to the board in 2011; and Shannon Kimball, an attorney who was elected to the board in 2011 and serves as president.

Candidate Votes
Mary L. Loveland 2,677
Marcel J. Harmon 2,172
Kelly Spurgeon 1,525
Norine Spears 1,378
Precincts reporting 79 of 86