PORTAGE — The makeup of the Portage Township School board will be changing due to this week's election.
Portage Police Chief Troy Williams won the District 1 seat over Joan Machuca. The seat is presently held by Cheryl Oprisko, who chose not to run again. Williams, however, won't take over the seat until January 2020. The District 1 seat is set up to lag a year.
Incumbent Rhonda Nelson came in third in a three-candidate race for the District 2 seat. Mary Clancy won the seat with Scott Falk coming in second.
At-large member Andy Maletta ran unopposed and will hold his seat for another four years.
In addition, the board will have another new member in January as District 3 member Jessica Bailey was elected to serve as the Porter County clerk and will have to resign from the School Board before taking that office.
"I'm happy and relieved," Williams said after vote totals were announced about noon Friday. "There was a lot of hard work by a lot of people who went into the effort." The voices of Portage Township residents were heard, he added.
Williams, who served as school resource officer at Portage High School for six years, and most recently battled with the School Board and administration over school security, said he believes he can work with the district and has expertise along with his experience as police chief in budgeting, policy making and negotiations.
Williams and school officials squared off for months over the use of Portage officers within the schools as SROs. Eventually, the district ended its relationship with the Portage department.
Machuca said she hopes the two sides can mend and move on after the election.
"I hope they can come to terms," said Machuca, of Ogden Dunes and a longtime former educator and administrator. She gained much from the campaign experience and hopes to remain involved in the schools, she added.
Clancy, marketing director for NorthShore Health Centers, said she believes her fresh ideas and perspective put her over the top in the three-way contest.
As a 2015 Portage High School graduate, Clancy said she has a good perspective on how things are, from the use of technology in the classroom to code reds.
Nelson said she was disappointed in the loss.
"There were so many things I wanted to see finished. I'm hoping they can finish the stuff we started," she said. "I always did it for the kids."