Candidates clash for school board spots


All around the NACS district, signs advertising school board candidates are posted

Along roads and on lawns are signs encouraging people to vote for candidates for the school board. Eight possible future school board members are knocking on doors, handing out flyers, and trying to rally supporters.

One of those candidates is Darren Vogt.

Darren Vogt is one of the candidates running for school board. He’s spent 12 years on the Allen County Council, with 6 of those years as president of the board. He’s on other boards as well, which include the Charger Youth Football League Board, Junior Achievement Board, and the Redevelopment Commission.

He ran in 2014 as a Republican candidate for District 15 of the Indiana State Senate, but was beaten by another candidate, Liz Brown. Prior to running for the board, he also ran a small business for 30 years–an Allstate insurance office.

“One of my goals for office is to redistrict NACS. If you look at the population and growth of NACS, you can see that there’s a lot of students,” Vogt said. “If I get into office, I plan to make sure we’re accommodating all the students, and matching their needs.”

Here is a link to Vogt’s campaign website for more information.

Another candidate who has focused on matching student needs is homicide detective Benjamin MacDonald. He’s spent 15 years as an officer with the Fort Wayne Police Department, and formerly served as a school resource officer at South Wayne Elementary.

MacDonald spoke in an interview with Wane 15 about what he is capable of when it comes to being on the school board.

“I bring a lot of experience working inside as a school resource officer at South Wayne Elementary several years ago,” MacDonald said. “In addition, my law enforcement training would bring a much needed dialogue with the school board to make our children as safe as possible.”

Vogt and MacDonald are running together with one more candidate, Jess Hopkins. Together, they make up the conservative party.

Jess Hopkins describes herself as “a conservative mother, and proud wife in a blue-line family that believes in working hard to achieve the outcome desired”.

She has extensive financial experience which includes a masters degree of science and a bachelors degree in accounting, a recipient of multiple awards, and work experience at First Merchants Bank as Vice President Market Leader of Fort Wayne.

Her goals as a potential school board member are to maintain parental rights, transparent communication, financial responsibility, and teacher advocacy.

Kristi Schlatter, another candidate, prides herself on not having a personal agenda.

“My only agenda is that I just want to see every single one of our 8,100 children be served to reach their full potential under the direction of our incredible administrators and great teachers and just amazing staff,” Schlatter said.

She’s been on the board since 2017 and believes that her dedication and desire to serve the community makes her a proper candidate for re-election.

She’s running with Elizabeth Hathaway and Eric Ellingson, who are two other candidates that she says shares her views.

Elizabeth Hathaway, who has been serving on the school board since 2015, is a member of multiple committees and groups, volunteers at school activities, and has four children currently in the NACS district.

Her goals for office, which can be found along with more information about her on the NACS website, is to do her best to represent the members of NACS, and make sure all children receive the highest quality of education possible.

Eric Ellingson, another candidate running for office, has multiple things on his resume. He was a swimmer for the Hoosiers, is the president and owner of Earth Source Inc. and Heartland Restoration Services, was on the United States Army Corporation of Engineers, and has a master’s degree in water resources, to name a few.

His three main goals, as stated on an interview by Committee to Support Public Education in NW Allen, are growth, funding, and teacher recruitment and retention.

Hathaway and Ellingson did not respond to a request for comments.

Christine Gilsinger, a “liberty-minded conservative,” is focused on returning to family centered values.

She plans to support, retain, and hire quality staff and provide excellent academically focused curriculum that exceeds standards.

She’s worked with special education students in the elementary and high school level.

“Politicization and progressive social agendas are creeping in, while traditional academics are suffering and respect for parental rights and family values is at an all-time low. I want to bring our district back to what previously made it one of the top in the nation,” Gilsinger said. ”Every child in our district deserves the care and encouragement to achieve their best, and I believe it is our job to help them reach their goals.”

Jessica Hopkins, another candidate, did not respond to a request for comments.

The final candidate who is running, Rick Norton, was a teacher for the NACS district. More information on him can be found here, in a story written by Charger Online staff reporter Sylvia McCann.

The election for school board is taking place on November 8. Early voting starts Wednesday, October 12.

Click here for more election information. 

Updated to reflect eight people running for NACS school board.