Dennis O’Keefe of La Salle had strong words for the La Salle-Peru Township High School Board when he threw his name in the running for a school board seat this year. Apparently it paid off, as the newcomer led the board in votes.
O’Keefe, who was unavailable for comment Tuesday night, collected 3,642 votes compared to incumbents Rose Marie Lynch (3,568 votes), Jim Quesse (3,362 votes), Rick Sipovic (3,229 votes) and Alan Cherpeske (2,866 votes), based on preliminary election numbers.
Although Sipovic has more votes, Cherpeske is the lone candidate from the unincorporated portion of the school district, guaranteeing him a seat on the board.
“I was happy to serve the district for the eight years that I’ve been there and would certainly continue to do anything I can to help L-P and the kids,” Sipovic said.
O’Keefe, a retired L-P teacher, separated himself from the incumbents during the campaign by calling the school board “hypocritical and vindictive” among other things. The question now will be will O’Keefe and the rest of the board put those comments behind them and work together?
Quesse and Lynch both said that’s possible, although Quesse voiced some reservations.
“He’s either going to have to change course or he’s going to be a lonely board member,” Quesse said.
Quesse added that he doesn’t believe the board has acted vindictively in the past, and that it will be difficult to work with someone acting in open opposition to the rest of the group.
“If he puts that behind and he comes forward in a positive way…this board will absolutely embrace him,” he said.
Lynch, who has served on the board since 1985, including some tumultuous periods, said, “I’m sure he’ll have the support of the other board members as he transitions into being a member the board.”