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Four incumbents win in District 622

Incumbents won Tuesday in the race for North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School Board.

"We're a good team. We're very different individually, but we really share the same values," said Nancy L. Livingston of North St. Paul, who topped all candidates by getting 18 percent of the vote in a district that includes a portion of northwest Woodbury.

Fellow School Board members Theresa Augé of Oakdale (16 percent), Steve Hunt of North St. Paul (15 percent), and Becky Neve of Maplewood (14 percent) also won re-election in District 622.

As for the challengers, Crystal Coleman of Oakdale earned 14 percent of the vote, Danny Porter of Maplewood 12 percent, and Richard Bennett of Maplewood 11 percent.

It's been a tough year for the School Board, with some drama during its selection of a superintendent. Livingston said she believes the district landed the right person in Christine Osorio—a decision "we've bonded over," Livingston added. "We're so happy with Christine."

The referendum win—55 percent to 45 percent at the polls Tuesday—takes pressure off of the School Board for the first time since 2002, when the district experienced its last increase in an operating levy referendum. Voters renewed a an operating levy referendum in 2011, but they still needed to make budget cuts on a regular basis.

Running a referendum during an election year suggests the use of "unconventional wisdom," Livingston said, but the campaign worked—boosted by more than 50 informational sessions about the schools' needs.

"I'm just thrilled," Livingston said. "I'm just euphoric about that. The voters came through. I'm just so proud of our district."

She said 82 percent of District 622 voters don't have kids in the schools. But older white property owners have invested in a young and very diverse student populace, Livingston said. "That's a wonderful thing."

Livingston has been a School Board member since 2000.

"Sometimes experience is a good thing," the former newspaper reporter said. "I'm a senior citizen, but I am still passionate about helping the kids in our district. And I think that came through. I'm not done yet."