Ayers, Bennett re-elected to Parkland board

Ayers, Bennett re-elected to Parkland board

CHAMPAIGN — Longtime Parkland College trustees Tom Bennett and James Ayers have been re-elected to the community college board.

Bennett of Gibson City received 13,087 votes, Ayers of Monticello had 12,493 and Sam McGrew of Champaign garnered 9,279 votes, according to unofficial counts as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday. Those numbers do not include vote totals from Iroquois or McLean Counties yet. The Parkland College district encompasses portions of 12 different counties in East Central Illinois.

"I am humbled by the fact that voters recognized the work done by me and Tom at Parkland has benefitted the students," said Ayers on Tuesday evening.

Ayers, a former mayor of Monticello, was first elected to Parkland's Board of Trustees in 1989. Bennett, the current board chairman, was first elected in 1995.

"I think we outworked our opponent and by working together we were able to get the message out," Ayers said.

As in previous years, Bennett and Ayers campaigned together, which made beating the two of them a challenge, McGrew said.

"I gave it the best I knew how," McGrew said. "It's exceedingly hard to break in, especially when they outspend you," said the retired superintendant and former state legislator. McGrew campaigned on his experience as a teacher, principal and superintendent at Fisher schools.

On Tuesday evening he said he wasn't ready to decide if he'd run again for the board or seek any other public office. He also lost in 2011.

"My record in Champaign County is 0-2. Each have been close, but close doesn't bring in too many home runs," he said. "I have no idea what my future holds," McGrew said.

Ayers, who also chairs the Parkland College Foundation, the college's fundraising arm, said he was looking forward to the completion of the campus master plan, working on the student success agenda which aims to increase the number of students who complete a certificate or associate's degree.

Bennett was not immediately available for comment Tuesday night.

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