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Rockwood nonprofit exec wins Gresham-Barlow school board seat

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Blake Petersen, the executive director of the nonprofit Good News Community Health Center in Rockwood, grabbed 3,443 votes, or 50 percent of the total, in preliminary returns.

Blake PetersenAn executive for a Rockwood nonprofit executive will take a seat on Gresham-Barlow School District school board, joining three incumbents who ran uncontested in Tuesday's election.

Blake Petersen, the executive director of the nonprofit Good News Community Health Center in Rockwood, grabbed 3,443 votes, or 50 percent of the total, in preliminary returns. Petersen is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a former captain in the U.S. Army.

Petersen, a product of Gresham-Barlow schools, has four children, two of them already attending district schools.

"We have a heavy responsibility to raise innovative business leaders, tradesmen/women, medical professionals, public servants, etc., who will, in turn, lead us," he told the Outlook before the election. "Their experiences — from the classroom to the ballfield to the stage — shape our collective future."

He beat out Danielle Currey, a naturopathic doctor, and Jason Dugan, an electrician who was a driving force behind the passage of the district's $291.2 million facilities bond in November.

Three incumbents, Matthew O'Connell, Carla Piluso and Sharon Garner, ran unopposed and were easily reelected for the board of the state's 10th-largest school district.

School board members are unpaid volunteers. Most spend more than a dozen hours per month on school board business. They set budgets, select curriculum and craft policy. They also hire and, if necessary, fire the superintendent.

The new board takes charge at a busy time for the district. The current Gresham board just hired a new superintendent, Katrise Perera, a seasoned education leader most recently from Houston. She replaces Jim Schlachter, who is retiring.

The district is also in the beginning of a major construction program that will be funded by the $291.2 million bond.