Incumbents pass tests from voters

Indian River School District (IRSD) School Board election results are in, and they indicate solid community support for the current administration.

District 4 incumbent Dr. Don Hattier, DC, topped challenger Lloyd Elling 561-244 and District 3 incumbent Nina Lou Bunting defeated newcomer Wilbert Laird 317-119.

Both Hattier and Bunting said they were pleased they’d have the opportunity to continue through to the end on the district’s projects underway.

Hattier, returning for a second term, said he hoped to live up to the charge. “The public recognizes we have a lot of things going on right now, and I think they support what we’re doing,” he said. “I think they can see past the short-term to the long-term picture.

“We’re in the midst of the biggest renovations anyone’s ever seen, since the district was formed,” Hattier pointed out. “As far as construction, things haven’t always turned out the way we thought they would — but we’re seeing that in construction projects everywhere.

“Regardless, we have to live up to what the board promised years ago, and we’re doing that,” he said.

Elling congratulated his opponent, but said he was unsure how to read the response from the voters. He said he was concerned the vote of confidence for the status quo might mean bad news for the recently “reduced in force” school climate workers.

He suspected many voters felt his proposed initiatives would have carried too much of a financial burden.

“I think they were afraid, if I was elected, their taxes would have gone up,” Elling noted. However, he said he saw School Board tax increases on the horizon one way or another.

Bunting said she was glad to be back for a second term. She, too, said she wanted to see the construction projects through to the finish, and to keep going with improvements in state testing.

However, she expressed a little disappointment with the voter turnout.

She said the community had really turned out in support when the prayer before School Board meetings came up, and she’d hoped to see that support again at election time.

Laird congratulated Bunting on a successful defense.

He encouraged district residents to become more involved in School Board affairs, and said he hoped Bunting would use her connections at the state to help the district through the present financial hard times.

All in all, the elections were cordial, and every candidate thanked his or her supporters, respectively.

Next year should be relatively quiet — District 4 Board Member Charles Bireley will be up for reelection, but his is the only seat in the cycle between Districts 3, 4 and 5.