Damakant Jayshi

All three incumbent Wausau School District Board of Education members whose terms end next year are seeking another term, taking the number of candidates to five.

The spring election is in April.

Current Vice President James Bouché, along with members Jane Rusch and Jon Creisher, are seeking re-election to the board.

They join Kayley McColley, a graduate from Wausau West High School, who was the first to announce her candidacy in October. According to WSD Board Secretary and Deputy Clerk Cassie Peck, Joanna Reyes has also filed her declaration of candidacy.

Candidates for the spring election will be posted on Jan. 11 to the Wausau School District’s official website after drawing of the lots takes place, Peck told Wausau Pilot & Review. The lots will determine the order of names on the ballot.

The dates related to the April elections mirror those of the Marathon County and City of Wausau’s Spring Election 2022. Candidates are required to file all relevant documents by Jan. 4. The deadline for filing a notice of non candidacy is Dec. 24.

Primary elections are slated for Feb. 15. If there are seven or more candidates seeking a seat on the school board, that would trigger a primary, according to Peck. [For details, click here.]

Bouché, Creisher and Reyes are campaigning together as a slate, according to a statement issued by Creisher on Friday.

Incumbents and their challengers explained why they were running for the election for a seat on the WSD Board of Education.

“Having served the public in the world of education for our youth for many years and under many roles I’m excited to continue that service on the school board to promote Academics, Arts and Athletics,” said Bouché, in the joint news release. He also represents 34 school districts in Central Wisconsin as their Region 5 director on the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. 

Rusch, who is seeking a sixth term, said the people of the district have given her 15 years on the board “that I have used to grow as a board member and to used that knowledge to work to improve the district.”

“Besides my 13 years as a student in the district, I have about another 30 years dedicated to the WSD in the form of volunteering or being a board member,” said Rusch, a retired state correctional officer. “I have my heart and soul invested in our district.” 

Creisher narrowly missed landing in the top three candidates during this year’s election in April, which entitled him to a one-year term that filled a vacancy. Now, he seeks a full three-year term in the April election.

“Witnessing the students and parents who are excited to be back in school is what brings me satisfaction,” Creisher said. “Providing parents’ choice and options for their children’s education is just part of my mission.”

Creisher is a director of strategic partnerships at an area manufacturing company.

McColley, a 21-year-old community activist, was one of the organizers of the Wausau March in June last year to protest the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“I’m ready to make change,” she said in her Facebook post in October. “That’s why I’m running for a seat on the Wausau School Board. I want to make sure we make changes that move us all forward.”

McColley, a student at Northcentral Technical College, is also a member of the Wausau Policing Task Force, a body formed by Mayor Katie Rosenberg in the wake of Floyd’s death.

Reyes has a degree in a degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising and more than ten years of experience in sales and marketing with a large retail company, according to the release issued by Creisher.

“The most important thing to me and my husband is raising our two children in a safe environment where family values and academic excellence still matter,” Reyes said. “As a member of the Wausau School board, I will work hard to improve the communication between the district and parents.”

School board elections, once a sleepy affair, have assumed added significance in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted normal school activities in myriad ways. The situation has been exacerbated by vaccine and mask requirements within school buildings, which have prompted strong debate.

Wausau Pilot & Review will continue to publish updates as additional candidates for local offices declare their intent to run.

Damakant Jayshi is a reporter for Wausau Pilot & Review. He is also a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of GroundTruth Project that places journalists into local newsrooms. Reach him at damakant@wausaupilotandreview.com.