Not only were Jeff Koch and Jennifer Martucci, both pledging to get spending under control, elected, but Lane Roberts, who had made it clear that with his new position as head of the Department of Public Safety that he would not be able to serve if elected, was elected anyway. That was a clear signal that voters wanted nothing more to do with Anne Sharp.
A few winners and losers from the election:
The voters- It is so much more rewarding for it to be the people of this school district who have made the moves, both last year with the removal of Jeff Flowers and this year with the repudiation of Anne Sharp, to regain control of their district. No more waiting for an outside agent, whether it be the state auditor or some state or federal investigation, to come in and do the job. The system works.
Jeff Koch- Not only did Jeff Koch receive more votes than any other board candidate, but he did it on a barebones budget, spending slightly more than $1,000 and with a campaign that stressed putting the emphasis back on academics and reining in spending. An entire candidacy based on issues and ideas. It was also a campaign based on core values, integrity, and hard work. Those things still matter.
Jennifer Martucci- It was clear from the candidate forum at Missouri Southern State University, that Martucci was the only one of the three candidates for the one-year term who had a grasp of what was going on in our schools.While I have no doubt that Melinda Campbell and Nancy Good sincerely wanted to do what is best for the children of this school district, neither one appeared to have done any homework before putting their names up for consideration.As with Koch, Martucci's campaign was centered on issues, with academics and fiscal responsibility at the forefront.
Joplin R-8 Employees- There has been no change in administration; there are no guarantees that there will be any, but a clear message was sent Tuesday that the culture of fear and intimidation that has been allowed to take hold of R-8 over the past seven years is going to end.
Students- It looks like the emphasis may turn from public relations to academics.
KZRG- The Zimmer station offered more coverage of the election and the issues than any other traditional media source, including interviews with each of the candidates, coverage of the controversial Anne Sharp campaign video and last weekend's C. J. Huff's Facebook posts. The Morning News Watch team also was the only traditional media source that picked up on the effort to elect Lane Roberts to keep Anne Sharp off the board. It appears that their always excellent severe weather coverage is not the only area in which KZRG excels.
Mike Landis- No examination of what happened Tuesday would be complete without recalling the role that Landis, who will soon become the longest-serving member of the R-8 Board, played. After Dawn Sticklen resigned last summer, the board asked for applications to serve until April. Four were received- Koch and Shawn McGrew, who had been unsuccessful candidates in April, Martucci and Roberts. Why they bothered to take applications is a mystery. Roberts and Martucci were told "no thanks," the replacement was going to be someone who had run in April. That would have seemed to have been a sign that the choice should have been Koch since he finished fourth and not McGrew, who came in sixth. Koch never had a chance. The fix was in and when it was noted to him that Koch had received more votes in the election, Landis sneered, "Elections don't matter." Yes, Mikey, they do.
C. J. Huff- Forget about Debbie Fort and Jennifer Martucci; C. J. Huff can find his greatest enemy by looking in the mirror.
Joplin Globe- Where do I start? The Globe never wrote a word about Anne Sharp's campaign video in which taxpayers-financed facilities and the teachers of the school district were used to promote the interests of a board member. The Globe was late to the C. J. Huff/Jennifer Martucci Facebook issue and seemed to go out of its way to let everyone know that Huff had done nothing illegal by jumping into the election fray (Whatever happened to people being held to the standard that they should do what is right instead of what they can get away with under the law?) The Globe offered only sparing coverage of the election. In Sunday's edition, the newspaper told readers that Jeff Koch and Anne Sharp were virtually guaranteed election since Lane Roberts could not serve. Not one word was mentioned about one of the major movements in this campaign- the push to elect Roberts so that Sharp could be removed from the board. If people relied on the Joplin Globe for their news of the school board election, they had no idea what was going on. And that doesn't even include the Globe's heavy-handed editing of Ryan Jackson's letter to the editor, weakening it with the addition of two "I believes" and not allowing him to say that test scores had gone down year after year since C. J. Huff arrived or that the district used to be accredited with distinction before Huff arrived but no longer is. Jackson was told he would have to provide evidence that those things were true. The evidence, in fact, had been in the pages of the Joplin Globe. But who would expect an editor of the Joplin Globe to know that?
Joplin Progress Committee- We are not interested in who Joplin's elite want us to vote for, thank you, we can make our own decisions.
Anne Sharp- To put it simply, she was defeated soundly by a candidate that voters knew was not going to be able to serve. Her campaign was also marred with unethical behavior, including the staged campaign video mentioned above, the idea of asking for teachers' addresses, and sending birthday cards to staff with campaign literature included.