Jonathan Nickell and Katy Frisch will fill the two open seats on the Aspen School District Board of Education left vacant by term-limited Sandra Peirce and Sheila Wills, according to unofficial election results as of 8:55 p.m. Tuesday.
Nickell won the most votes at 1,155, or 26.01 percent of the 3,833 ballots counted at that time (total turnout is expected to hit around 4,200 votes, according to county election officials). With 1,114 votes, Frisch claimed 25.09 percent. The two emerged as clear winners in early returns, as Jim Pomeroy was third in the pack with 726 votes, or 16.35 percent. The remaining third of the votes were shared between John Galambos (629, or 14.17 percent), Bettina Slusar (514, or 11.58 percent) and Patsy Kurkulis (302, or 6.8 percent).
Frisch was enjoying dinner with her family at Mi Chola when the Aspen Daily News reached her for comment.
“It’s good to be here with the kids and everything. Adam and I have been through a lot of elections that have had results on both sides,” she said, noting her husband’s two terms served on Aspen City Council and an unsuccessful mayoral campaign earlier this year. “I know how it feels in both ways, and I’m thrilled to be able to work for the community and do what we’ve been talking about these last few weeks in the campaign, but I also appreciate what a great campaign everyone else ran, and I hope they’ll continue to run and be engaged.”
As for the board’s immediate priorities, both Frisch and Nickell agreed: hiring a superintendent.
“Finding the new district leadership, the new superintendent. I think everybody has that [priority], current and future board members,” Nickell said.
In early October, the board of education agreed to hire Hazard Young Attea Associates, a Chicago-based education consulting firm, to assist in the hiring process for the new superintendent. The same firm aided in hiring the district’s Chief Financial Officer Linda Warhoe.
“There’s nothing more important than good leadership, and once we can get that person in place and on board, him or her, I think we have the ability to continue to press forward with a strategic plan and make some quick fixes for things that may need to be fixed … as well as create a long-term vision,” Frisch said. “The leadership in an organization is the most important thing, first off, without a doubt.”
That said, she’s also hoping to make board meetings more efficient, she continued with a laugh.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do!” she said.
Nickell was in Columbus, Ohio, on election night, but he said in a phone interview that he’s anticipating “collaboration and teamwork to move things forward.”