After a particularly active election cycle for the Mitchell Board of Education, two new school board members in Shawn Ruml and Brittni Flood were elected Tuesday.

They were selected as part of the joint city and school election, in which candidates competed for the position of city mayor, council seats from Ward 1 and 3 as well as the board of education.

Ruml and Flood received the most votes for the at-large seats out of six candidates, meaning they will take over the two seats during the board of education's meeting in July. The two will take the seats occupied by Lacey Musick and Neil Putnam, both of whom decided not to seek re-election to the board in 2021.

They will join Kevin Kenkel, Deb Olson and Matt Christansen on the five-person panel.

Ruml took the most votes out of the six with 1,516, or 28.08% of votes cast. He was followed by Flood with 1,314 votes, or 24.34% of votes cast. Also receiving votes in the election were Chris Nebelsick, who received 800 votes for 14.82%, Reed Bender, who received 598 votes for 11.08%, Dwight Stadler, who took 520 votes for 9.63% and Debbie Emme, who brought in 192 votes for 3.56%.

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Steve Culhane, business manager for the Mitchell School District, said the candidate field of six was the largest in a race for two seats on the board of education dating back to at least 1984.

Shawn Ruml
Shawn Ruml

Ruml said it was an honor to be selected to serve on the board, and thanked the voters and his campaign supporters.

"It feels pretty surreal," Ruml told the Mitchell Republic. "It was a lot of work and a lot of people helped me get this far."

Ruml works at Innovative Systems in Mitchell and studied education at the University of South Dakota to be a teacher, but he realized it wasn’t the right fit for him. He proceeded to earn a master’s degree in education from USD, and hopes to bring that background with him to the board, he said.

Running in a field of six candidates was a learning experience for him, Ruml said, as he found himself pondering his opponent's positions and realizing they all had similar goals in mind.

"Even though we all wanted the same (seats), we got along very well and everyone was helpful to one another. I felt like I learned a lot from the other candidates," Ruml said. "We all had different opinions and things we wanted to accomplish, but we got along well, which is what we want the board to do. I want to keep that going into the future."

Now that he has voter approval, he plans to listen and learn when he begins his term in July.

"I'll continue to listen to people. A lot of people have reached out with congratulations, but people will start coming to me with problems. I want to listen to and hear those," Ruml said.

Brittni Flood
Brittni Flood

Flood also said she was thankful for both the support and opportunity to serve on the Mitchell Board of Education.

"It's wonderful. I'm so happy to be part of the future of the Mitchell School District and that people showed up today," Flood said.

A mother of three, the Chamberlain native studied education at Dakota Wesleyan University and got to know many local teachers and administrators during her time in school, she said.

Flood ran with an eye toward addressing paraprofessional training and pay, as well as her devotion to having history and civics curriculums reflect true events, she said.

"A lot of people really (connected) with the paraprofessional training and pay, along with the history. People are truly wanting history to be taught as it happened, which I think is very important," Flood said. "I'm glad (the voters) felt that way."

She also said she would take a learn-and-listen approach as she eases onto the board when her term starts.

"I want to get a feel for everything that is going on and just really get an idea of what I can do for the board," Flood said.

Results from the school and city races can be found here.