(Above) TONY BROWNLEE, GREG SOUTHGATE, CHYRL BERGVIG
School Board is only contested local race
by Marianne Gasaway
The race for a position on the Clear Lake School Board is the only contested race local voters will decide in the Nov. 2 General Election.
Incumbents Tony Brownlee and Chyrl Bergvig will be challenged by Greg Southgate, a newcomer to elected office. The two candidates receiving the most votes will fill the two positions available on the Board.
“The main reason that I am throwing my hat in the ring is that I believe there is huge opportunity for improvement here in our school system,” said Southgate. “The resources that we have, our teachers and facilities are second to none. Yet morale seems very low right now amongst the educators in our school system.”
Southgate was born and raised in England; he moved to the United States in 2004 following his career in agriculture. Since 2009 he has been employed as a marketing manager for Christensen Farms, in the pork industry. He and his wife, Valerie, who taught in the Clear Lake School District for more than 10 years, have three children. His community involvement includes serving as a lieutenant/EMT-B on the Clear Lake Fire Department, which he joined in 2009.
“I am prepared to go to bat and speak my mind if it will be to the benefit of the Clear Lake Community School District, its educators, school staff and students. What I am not prepared to do is sit in the board meetings as a warm body and simply vote yes on any subject that arises for the sake of voting. In my opinion, and I may be wrong, the school board is there to provide checks and balances for the school system. The purpose should be to vote ‘yes’ on the good items but also not be afraid to vote ‘no’ or question ‘why’ on issues. If the board isn’t questioning the administration then who can?”
Brownlee, who announced his candidacy back in August, will be seeking his second term on the School Board.
Bergvig, who retired as a school counselor and assistant principal at Clear Lake High School, is running for a third term. As the current president of the Board, she said she would like to see some of the projects and initiatives started during her time on the board through to completion.
“I would like to finish what we have started, including PLC (Professional Learning Community, which enables teachers to work together in teams) and building projects.”
City races are uncontested
Mayor Nelson Crabb, Council Representative At-Large Dana Brant, and Ward 2 Council Representative Bennett Smith were the only candidates to file nomination papers for the General Election. All three men had already announced their intention to seek re-election.
Crabb, who is retired, has served as mayor since 2006.
Brant, who is self-employed, served as the Council’s representative from Ward One from 2012 to 2016. He was forced to seek re-election in Ward Three in 2017 due to redistricting created by the most recent census. The new boundaries placed the one-term incumbent in a race with another one-term representative, Jim Boehnke. Boehnke was the winner in a tight race. In 2018, Brant ran for an at-large position on the Council and won.
Smith is an instructor in history and political science at North Iowa Area Community College.