Two write-in candidates and an incumbent were elected to the Belle Plaine school board Tuesday, knocking out a former board member who had returned to pursue a third term.
Diane Skelley and Terry Kahle, the write-in candidates, together garnered about 50 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Tracy O'Brien, who was appointed to fill a vacant spot on the board this year, won about 28 percent of the vote.
Local farmer Gary Steinhagen, who served on the board from 2010-2013, won about 20 percent of the vote.
Skelley and Kahle threw their names into the mix after the filing period ended with three open seats and just O'Brien and Steinhagen on the ballot.
"I guess you could say we were fortunate enough to have a couple of people who stepped up and were willing to be write-in candidates," said Superintendent Ryan Laager. "You've had situations here where you've had write-ins win before, in city elections as well, so it's not uncommon."
Steinhagen said he decided to pursue another term because of concerns about the board's financial decisions.
He said he was "a little surprised and disappointed" by the election results, but said he may not have had the local name recognition that the newly elected board members do.
"I am disappointed, but I'm not going to jump off a bridge or anything," he said.
As a farmer who works long hours, Steinhagen said, it was tough to make time for campaigning. And though he's lived in Belle Plaine for 18 years, other candidates have been there longer.
Laager agreed that name recognition is important, particularly in local elections where campaigning tends to be relatively low-key.
"It's not big campaigning … it's smaller town, so it's, 'Hey, I'm running for school board,' " Laager said. "It's smaller stuff like that."