2023 WSD Board of Education Candidates Announced

Six nominees are in the race to fill three open seats and potentially make a difference in our education system


photo via Instragram of WSD

The 2023 Board of Education election will take place on April 4.

Gavin Block, Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Ledger

The Wentzville School District’s newest Board of Education candidates for April 2023 were revealed at a meeting convened on Thursday evening, Jan. 19. The six contenders and their submitted biographies on the district’s website were formally presented through various social media platforms on Wednesday, Jan. 25, the same day school was canceled due to inclement weather. All three of the seats that are open (currently held by Erin Abbott, Betsy Bates and Daniel Brice) are occupied by members who do not plan on running once again, meaning three completely new officers will join the Board after the election on Tuesday, April 4.

The candidates are listed below in the order that they will appear on the April ballot. The only candidate who has previously attempted running for the Board of Education is John Kaelin.

John Kaelin

John Kaelin is a former U.S. Air Force officer and a past civilian in the Department of Defense. Kaelin believes that the traditional concept of going straight to a four-year university in order to succeed is one that should be abandoned; he says that pathways such as community college and technical school need to be more accepted and promoted by public education. Kaelin feels that if staff members demonstrate a sense of trust and understanding toward each other, progress can be facilitated. He promises to utilize taxpayer funds in a manner that is responsible and that is in the best interest of students and staff of the district.

“As a military veteran, public servant, and parent, I understand the work that lies ahead and I pledge to give everything I have to accomplish the Wentzville School District’s mission,” says Kaelin.

John Kaelin can be contacted via the email address [email protected]

Jen Olson

Jen Olson was part of the first graduating class of Timberland High School, when the Wentzville School District was beginning to grow rapidly. She is now a wife and a mother to two children, with an occupational background that includes legal research and accounting. Although she believes the WSD had a reputation for providing quality education to its students, Olson cites interferences like special interests, political ideals and excessive control by the bureaucracy as progressively worsening and corrupting this status. She argues that as a result of a conventional “one-size-fits-all” approach in classrooms, many students in the district are struggling to succeed, even when the standards are set lower. She states that as a Board member, she would make sure the district is transparent with the public and would reacquire parents’ as well as stakeholders’ trust.

“I believe WSD can resurrect the academic excellence this district was once known for, and better prepare our students to lead us into the future,” Olson remarks.

Jen Olson can be contacted via the email address [email protected]

David Lewis

David Lewis retired from a position not long ago as the vice president of a local federal contractor company that devised solutions for the Department of Defense along with other government agencies, in which he oversaw branches such as engineering, IT and operations. He claims that he has been an active citizen with respect to the political affairs of the city of Wentzville and the WSD. In addition, Lewis says that he started substitute teaching in November to gain a more internal understanding of the general organization. The notions of incorporating business practices in the district’s methodical planning and terminating the “ongoing woke-ism” in classrooms are contained in his platform.

“I believe that it is the responsibility of every able individual to to use their knowledge and experience to give back, and be part of lifting up the next generation,” states Lewis.

David Lewis can be contacted via the email address [email protected]

Renee Henke

Renee Henke grew up in St. Charles County and recalls that, for her, school was a safe place where she could develop her potential. However, she is now of the opinion that disruptive and aggressive conduct has recently transitioned it into an unstable environment. Currently raising three children in the district, Henke is aiming to create a more secure atmosphere in academic settings and declares that tax increases have put a strain on families in the area. She possesses experience in balancing financial accounts and supposes that “learning loss” stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact on learners that should be considered.

“In order to see this through we must address learning loss, behavioral/discipline issues, financial responsibility, and support our amazing staff!” Henke says.

Renee Henke can be contacted via the email address [email protected]

Brad Welsh

Brad Welsh is a husband and a father to two children who presently attend Prairie View Elementary. He states that he has lived in the region for the past five years. Welsh notes that he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2006 from the University of Missouri and that for 15 years, he has worked in the field of sales. He expresses that education is an important part of his life as well as that a good rapport with teachers and staff should be maintained so as to build support. Coaching children in various sports has apparently given him a greater appreciation for educational employees.

“My career has prepared me for this position by emphasizing collaboration, problem solving, large scale budget analytics and advocating for others,” explained Welsh.

Brad Welsh can be contacted via the email address [email protected]

David A. Biesenthal

David A. Biesenthal has been a resident of the district since 2006. He has two children that go to Prairie View Elementary and Barfield Early Childhood. Biesenthal carries an extensive educative work history, having been employed as a physical education teacher and athletic director at Immanuel Lutheran in Wentzville and teaching in the Fort Zumwalt School District while he obtained his master’s degree in education from Lindenwood University. He currently instructs students in business and computer programming. He wants to bring a teacher’s perspective to the Board and is ready to take responsibility for assuring students’ and teachers’ educational plans and needs are met.

“As a Director on the Wentzville Board of Education, I will be looking out for our children and for the educators and staff who serve them,” Biesenthal remarks.

David A. Biesenthal can be contacted via the email address [email protected]

The annual Board of Education Town Hall, which provides further insight regarding each candidate and their respective platforms, is likely to take place in late March as done in preceding years.

The next regular Board of Education meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 23, though an emergency conference could be summoned at an even earlier date of Wednesday, Feb. 1 if necessary.