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Witte wins District 833 School Board appointment on coin flip

Michelle Witte will fill a vacant South Washington County School Board seat after winning a coin flip that followed three rounds of divided balloting. 

Witte, a Woodbury resident with community volunteer experience, won the toss Thursday after six board members could not decide between her and Joe Slavin. Slavin, also of Woodbury, is a middle school principal in neighboring District 622 and is involved in the East Ridge Athletic Association softball program.

Witte said she was humbled to earn the support she did when considered alongside “so many great candidates,” but admitted the outcome wasn’t expected.

“It feels a little bizarre,” she said of the coin-flip ending, adding: “I’m so grateful, and I feel for Joe.”

The board’s appointment policy calls for a coin toss if a candidate does not receive a majority of votes after three rounds of voting between the final two candidates.

“This is a true testament to the quality of the candidates that we had this evening,” School Board Chairman Ron Kath said.

Witte and Slavin were among seven applicants interviewed by the board. The others were Kim Graff of Cottage Grove; Molly Lutz of Woodbury; Leslee Boyd of Woodbury; Michael Edman of Cottage Grove; and Jonathan Hunt of Woodbury.

Each candidate was interviewed for up to a half-hour by board members. There were eight rounds of balloting. Candidates were dropped from consideration in the following order: Graff, Edman, Boyd, Lutz and then Hunt.

Coin flip decisions are rare but have been used in the past to fill vacant seats. Brunnette lost a coin toss for an appointment to the board in 1998.

“Having been through that, it’s just not a good way to do this,” she said.

The final vote had Kath, McElwee-Stevens and Brunnette backing Witte and Johnson, Van Leer and Schwartz supporting Slavin. Again it was split 3-3 and the coin toss was called.

The vacancy was created when board member Jim Gelbmann announced he would resign in the middle of his term due to personal and professional reasons. His term ends December 2015. He did not participate in the selection of his successor.

Witte will be sworn into office in July.

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