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Charleston, Mattoon races undecided based on early results

Charleston, Mattoon races undecided based on early results


CHARLESTON — A challenger in the race for a Charleston school board seat had a narrow, early lead over an incumbent and another candidate late Tuesday.

No vote totals had been posted by press time for the contested races for mayor and city council members as well as school board members in Mattoon, however.

In the Charleston school board race, newcomer Brandon Wright had an early lead with 20 of the school district's 24 Coles County precincts reporting.

Unofficial totals had Wright with 481 votes while current, first-term board member Matt Titus had 416 and candidate Drew Pounds had 170.

In the campaign, all three candidates cited the approach to how the school district handled the reopening of school after months closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Titus defended the decision to start the year with remote learning only and said the handling of the pandemic allowed for experiences to use in addressing ongoing district issues.

Wright criticized the approach, saying that was one example of how the board needed to communicate better with parents and the community. He also expressed concerns about state education mandates.

Pounds said he had other concerns in addition to the pandemic, including ensuring that the district maintained programs and prepared for Superintendent Todd Vilardo's retirement.

The Mattoon races included four candidates for mayor and 12 for four seats on the city council. There were also three candidates competing for two seats on the Mattoon school board.

The mayoral race featured current city council members Rick Hall and Preston Owen along with Randy Hausle and Alex Walker. The field became open after the death of Mayor Tim Gover in December.

The council candidates were incumbents Dave Cox and Sandy Graven and newcomers Trent Seiler, George "Butch" Gullion, Jennifer White, Dustin Hay, Scott Harris, Steve Ratliff, David Phipps, Jim Closson, Rob Scheffer and Zachary Haifley.

Issues in the city election included the question of whether to reinstate the city's ambulance service and several related to city finances.

For the Mattoon school board, the contested race featured incumbent Erika Weaver and candidates Heidi Larson and Christopher Morrison. Issues included recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and student career development.


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Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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