KANKAKEE — The race to claim four seats on the Kankakee School Board culminated with the three incumbents on the ballot retaining their spots and first-time candidate Tracy Verrett earning a seat.
The top four vote earners out of five candidates in Tuesday’s consolidated election were current board vice president Jess Gathing Jr. with 2,769 votes (22.15 percent), Verrett with 2,691 votes (21.53 percent), and current board members Mary Archie with 2,585 votes (20.68 percent) and Darrell Williams with 2,546 votes (20.37 percent).
First-time candidate Jamyce Cleggett earned the fewest votes at 1,909 (15.27 percent).
Gathing has served on the board for eight years and earned his third four-year term, while Archie and Williams have served four years and earned their second four-year terms.
Current board secretary Angela Shea did not run for re-election. She ran in the Democratic primary election for mayor of Kankakee, losing to Mayor Chastity Wells-Armstrong.
Verrett, a 25-year mental health technician at Shapiro Developmental Center, said she decided to run for school board because of her passion for children.
“Bringing about change in the community, it starts with children,” she said.
Verrett said she feels current board members are doing well, and as a board member she will push for providing high school students with information about career choices, whether they choose college or a different path.
Gathing described the seven-member school board as a “big pie,” with each member representing a piece. Current board members will look to provide mentorship to the new member, he said.
“We will continue to work hard to get things right [coming] out of the pandemic and working with the superintendent to do the best we can do,” Gathing said.
Archie said the main focus of the school board should always be on “children and education.”
Going forward, she said she wants to make sure children are safely brought back into schools and their normal routines after the pandemic.
Williams echoed the desire to prioritize getting students back in schools and said he wants the district to focus on addressing pandemic-related learning loss.