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Dixon trio elected to school board

Two incumbents, including vice president, ousted

DIXON – Three Dixon women will have the opportunity to “move Dixon forward” when it comes to education.

Pastor and music teacher Rachel Cocar, 42; psychotherapist Melissa Gates, 50, and yoga instructor Rachael Gehlbach, 38, were elected Tuesday to the Dixon School Board.

Gehlbach received the most votes with 1,956; followed by Cocar, 1,760; and Gates, 1,483.

The trio, who ran under the banner “Moving Dixon Forward,” defeated incumbents Scott Johnson and Brandon Rogers. Johnson, 55, is the board’s vice president and a grain merchandising manager for Consolidated Grain & Barge, and Rogers, 37, manages the Dixon Walgreens.

Jill Stoker, the current president, did not seek reelection after one term.

Cocar, Gates and Gehlbach will be seated at the April 17 board meeting.

“We’re beyond grateful to everyone who voted,” Gehlbach said. “We’re so excited. We are still sort of in shock, and couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity.” 

Cocar was the only challenger endorsed by the Dixon Education Association, which also supported the incumbents.

“We’re going to go into this with open minds,” Gehlbach said. “We’re grateful for the integrity and for the work that Scott and Brandon did while they served on the school board.”

The challengers made transparency a key point in the race.

The board has faced controversy in recent years regarding a lack of public inquiry about bonds and spending, as well as the $1 million purchase of 73.5 acres of property on Brinton Avenue in 2017. 

Both Johnson and Rogers denied any lack in transparency on the board’s part during the election.

Johnson was elected in 2015. Rogers ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2015, but was appointed to replace then-vice president Jim Schielein, who resigned in 2017.

The school board meets today in a closed session for its yearly evaluation of Superintendent Margo Empen.

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