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TELL CITY - Voters in the Tell City-Troy Township school district voted overwhelmingly to change the way school-board members are seated, registering a 2,657-to-540 preference for electing them.
Tell City resident J.R. Flynn launched in January a petition drive to ask voters of the district if they want to retain the current appointment system or begin electing school-board members.
"The right to vote is a fundamental principle in a democracy," he said after learning about the outcome, "and as Americans, we fight for democracy in countries around the world and in our back yard. All I did was give the people of Troy Township an opportunity to speak their voice, and they've done the rest. I'm very excited about these results."
Current board members will complete their terms, and in some cases have their terms extended so their completions will coincide with general elections.
"My son will be out of school before the change will occur, but we've ensured change will occur," Flynn said.
Current school-board members opposed the change, saying they did so because the plan Flynn crafted did not include districts from which members will be elected. That created the possibility all board members could be elected from a single area, leaving the remainder of the township without representation.
Under the current plan, board members are appointed by the Tell City Common Council and Troy Township trustee and the three-person township advisory board.
Flynn said he wrote the plan as he did to give all voters in the township a chance to choose all of the board members.
Dr. Gene Ress, who was appointed to the board in 1998, said Wednesday he assumed the corporation would go to an elected-member system at some point, but "I'm just concerned about representation."
Also concerning him, he added, was the possibility few voters from outside Tell City would vote.
While city residents voted for mayoral and council candidates, the school-board question was the sole item on ballots for Troy and other Troy Township residents.
Additionally, "they all had to go to the courthouse to vote," he pointed out.
Among the single Troy and two Troy Township precincts where voters selected candidates for federal, state and local offices last year, 1,209 ballots were cast.
This election's total for the three precincts was 577.