School board hopefuls opposed to school closures announce candidacy

School board candidates


School board candidates

Karen Vandenberg, Cody Nikolai and Jon Creisher all announced candidacy for school board.

Three candidates involved in the Parents for Wausau Schools Reopening have announced their intentions to run for school board. 

Karen Vandenberg, a physical therapist, Jon Creisher, a director of strategic partnerships at a manufacturing company and Cody Nikolai, and orthopaedic surgeon and Navy veteran all announced their intention to run. 

Two are newcomers to the political arena, but Nikolai ran for office earlier this year, coming up 75 votes short.

Candidates could take out and circulate nomination papers as of Tuesday, Dec. 1. The seats of President Tricia Zunker, Vice President Patrick McKee, Beth Martin and newly appointed member Jeff Leigh are up for re-election this year.

According to School District Clerk Cassie Peck, Martin filed non-candidacy paperwork. Candidate packets were handed out to Zunker, McKee, Kay Gruling and Nicolas Bisgrove. Bisgrove and Gruling were finalist to fill Theresa Miles’s seat after she resigned. Leigh was ultimately chosen for the seat.

To get on the ballot, candidates must receive at least 20 signatures and may turn in up to 100. Candidates have until early January to file paperwork.

All three candidacies came from a movement by parents of the Wausau School District to have the school remain open. The Facebook group Parents for Wausau Schools Reopening was a backlash against the Wausau School District remaining in virtual mode this fall. Starting in November the district resumed in-person learning. District staff has told City Pages that of roughly 1,000 COVID-19 cases the district has traced, only one was spread from the district, and that involved a sports team. 

Creisher in a release said that he has become concerned about transparency on the school board, and wants to bring a better dialogue between the board and parents. “I am committed to improving on that,” Creisher says.

City Pages requested updated information about who else has taken out papers or filed non-candidacy and will update this post.