The Olympia School Board has a new member.
Joellen Wilhelm had a strong enough lead in early returns on Tuesday night — 61 percent of the votes counted — that she declared victory, and her opponent Jess Revelas conceded the race.
“I’m excited to be of service for our community and I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve had,” Wilhelm said. “…I’m just looking forward to serving the students in our district and helping make a difference.”
Both candidates campaigned hard to replace Allen Miller, who has served on the board since 2008 but opted to not seek another term. Both said they’d bring a much-needed parent perspective to the five-member elected school board.
Wilhelm, who has a bachelor’s degree in environmental communication and a master’s degree in public administration, works part-time from home as a nonprofit consultant and grant writer. She and her husband, David, a pilot, have two children, ages 3 and 8. Their oldest is a third-grader at Madison Elementary School.
Wilhelm, who visited every school in the district in recent months, said she couldn’t have won the race without a network of supporters who worked on her campaign.
“I’m just grateful that we had a race that elevated the discussion about education in our community,” she said.
Revelas said she plans to stay involved in local school issues as president of the Options Community Council at Lincoln Elementary School. She also felt it was a good race.
“She (Wilhelm) made a big effort to win this,” Revelas said. “I think that played out in the numbers.”
Wilhelm said she thinks the biggest issue that she’ll need to tackle in her newly elected role is working with the other board members and administrators on addressing the district’s population growth and capital facility needs.
“I think my big thing will just be to listen,” she said.