In an unusually close race, five candidates have come within the same percentage point of votes earned in the Hastings School Board race.
Newcomers Brian Davis, Becky Beissel and Stephanie Malm, along with current vice chair Lisa Hedin, have the majority of the votes. Davis leads with 17.8% of the vote, followed by Hedin (11.79%), Beissel (11.52%) and Malm (11.32%).
Jessica Gelhar and Melanie Peters earned 11.21% and 11.06% of the vote, respectively.
If the results are contested, the margin is narrow enough for a publicly funded recount.
The last school board race to come so close happened in 2007, with four candidates coming within less than a percentage point of each other.
Hedin, the sole incumbent, has previously served two four-year terms. In previous interviews with the Star Gazette, she emphasized the need for the district to improve issues beyond contracts, facilities and finances. She has also said she prioritizes accessibility.
"Last year, I really thought the purpose of the school board overall is governance, and this last year we had some challenging employment issues. I was happy to see the level of public engagement," Hedin said. "I try very hard to keep my accessibility out there, to not be withdrawing from people."
Beissel, a registered cath lab nurse and Hastings High School alum, told the Star Gazette her background has given her skills in collaborating under time sensitive, stressful circumstances.
"I know one decision can affect your life or change it in an instant," she said.
She has previously emphasized staff morale, enrollment and and district communication as priorities.
Davis, a senior sports instructor at the Hastings YMCA, has two children who have been in the Hastings school district. He has said the district's top issues are discipline, assessing curriculum and district transparency.
"I am exposed to well over 600 children a year and their families. I've heard from them about some different challenges that they faced in the school system," he told the Star Gazette ahead of the election, adding that he has spent five years on the Site Council at Highland Park Elementary. "That [gave] me a unique perspective on how schools work, facilities, budgeting, curriculum discipline."
Malm has said in previous interviews that her skills from her current position working as a senior paralegal with the Minnesota National Guard would transfer to serving on the school board.
"We deal with a lot of regulations ... I need to be able to take those regulations, take those laws and put it into layman's terms so that we can push that out to the field," she said ahead of the election.
She emphasized the need for transparency around budget decisions.
"I think that as a board member, it's my duty to communicate what we're doing with taxpayers' money and that we're spending it wisely," she said. "Making sure that we're communicating how we're allocating and spending our finances is vital."
This is a developing story and will be updated.