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Voters turn out for Clear Lake School Board election

On Tuesday, Clear Lake residents had the opportunity to vote in the races for city council, mayor and school board. 

Clear Lake Voting Day - March 3, 2020

Clear Lake voters check in at the Zion Lutheran Church polling location in March 2020.

There was no contest in any of the city council seats, as current council members Dana Brant and Bennett Smith ran unopposed. The same is true with the Clear Lake Mayor race, in which mayor Nelson Crabb was unchallenged.

What drove many Clear Lakers to the polls on Tuesday was the school board election, with three candidates vying for two spots. Two of the candidates, Chyrl Bergvig and Tony Brownlee, are seeking reelection and newcomer Greg Southgate is challenging for one of the two seats. 

Bergvig is a retired educator who says over her long career she has taught at every grade level in some capacity. She is currently serving her second term on the Clear Lake School Board. 

Brownlee has served on the school board since 2017, and serves as the president of Kingland Systems, a software company based in Clear Lake. He has two children in the Clear Lake school system and also volunteers as a coach for the Clear Lake track and field teams. 

Southgate is seeking election to the school board for the first time, and has lived in Clear Lake since 2009. Southgate works in the agriculture industry as a marketing manager for Christensen Farms, and is a Lieutenant for the Clear Lake Fire Department. 

Many voters at the polls on Tuesday afternoon spoke about the importance of the school board race, citing that as their reason for voting. 

"It's important to have good school board staff," Laura Jeffeson said. "It's important for our kids and the community." 

"We don't have children in the school system but we have a granddaughter in kindergarten," Sue Golly said. "Of course we want her to get the best opportunities available and sometimes those opportunities are through your school board." 

Another major driving force of voter turnout was residents wanting to exercise their right to vote. 

"I came today because it's our right to vote," Vicki Haiggins said. 

"I was out and about and I saw today was the day to vote," John Green said. "I didn't even know what was on the ballot really... I just think you should always go and vote."

Despite just one competitive race on the ballot, some of the polling places in Clear Lake have experienced good turnout. 

The Ward 2 location at Clear Lake City Hall and the Ward 3 location at the Clear Lake Church of Christ through the afternoon had experienced solid turnout. 

"The turnout has been better than I thought," Becky Butz, a poll worker from Ward 3, said. "Compared to other years like this, I would say there's been a larger turnout." 

"It has been pretty steady here in Clear Lake," Ilene Brown, a poll worker from Ward 2, said. "Not overwhelming...a good representative of people in Clear Lake wanting to voice their opinions." 

It was a different story in the Ward 1 polling location at the Zion Lutheran Church. Poll workers there said that as of noon, only around 90 people had voted at the location. 

"It's been slow here, so far," Ward 1 poll worker Roxie Espinosa said. But the light turnout numbers were not atypical of similar elections, Espinosa noted.

Zachary Dupont covers politics and business development for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at 641-421-0533 or Follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZachNDupont


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