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Two new faces elected to Newton school board

Benson, Elbert retain their seats; Padget, Friedman join

With six candidates and four seats, the election for the Newton Community School Board of Education was expected to be close and almost three hours after polls closed, the results proved that to be true.

Unofficial results show both write-in candidates Travis Padget and Robyn Friedman have been elected, and incumbents Andy Elbert and Sherri Benson have retained their seats on the board.

Things got so tight in the election, the votes between Darrin. T. Hamilton and Elbert differed by 13. Joe Klingensmith was only 70 votes away from securing what would have been his second term on the board.

“All I can say right now is that I am happy to be re-elected and look forward to serving another four years,” Elbert said.

Friedman was the top vote getter and received 723 votes, Padget received 602 votes, Benson received 643 votes and Elbert secured the last seat with 474 votes.

Friedman released a statement on her Facebook page “Robyn Friedman for NCSD School Board.”

“Thank you, thank you to all those who turned their ‘likes’ into votes and brought someone else with them to the polls tonight,” she wrote. “What a fun victory and I am excited to begin the new challenges as a Newton Community School Board member and represent all of you who voted for me! Looking forward to working with the team of school board members and helping to keep our schools moving upward! A school district growing and thriving and being innovative leads to growth in a community in so many ways!”

She wasn’t the only candidate excited about the board’s new look.

“I am thrilled to be representing my hometown by having a voice on the Newton school board,” Padget said.

Like Elbert, Benson was also grateful to retain her position on the board.

“I am delighted to have the honor to serve the school district and community again for another four years, and I look forward to working with this new team at the table,” Benson said.

Hamilton released a concession statement on his Facebook page “Darrin T. Hamilton for Newton Community School Board.”

“Huge turnout. Thank you to those of you who voted for me,” he wrote. “Good luck to the new board, as you’ll face many challenges over the next four years. Remember to keep all children first and foremost in your decision making.”

Strong campaigns by all the candidates resulted in a 6.9 percent voter turnout, which is the highest figure in several years. The average turnout for the last three elections was 2.62 percent.

The high turnout also helped DMACC retain its current support levies. Public Measure A received 1,393 “Yes” votes and Public Measure B received 1,332 “Yes” votes. Both levies are used to help with operations, maintenance and keeping training equipment current with industry standards.

All results are still unofficial until the Jasper County Board of Supervisors holds a canvass of the school elections Friday at 1 p.m. at the courthouse.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at

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