Cost per student Mercer $25,097,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mercer’s School Board Election


Mercer voters will have some easy and not-so-easy decisions to make in the Spring School Board election.  The easy part is reelecting Sue Loth and Jeff Nehring.  The difficult part is who to select from the remaining three candidates for the other open board seat.

The two candidates receiving the most votes will fill three-year terms.  The third candidate in line with the number of votes will receive a one-year term. 

Reelecting Loth and Nehring is an easy choice.  They were appointed after last Spring’s election to fill board seat vacancies.  They have joined wholeheartedly in helping Board President Bob Davis and board member Jim Hannemann in cleaning up the mess left behind by former Administrator Erik Torkelson.  

The voter dilemma is who to select for the third open board position.  They must choose between Deanna Pierpont, Brian Baltz and Henry (Hank) Joustra.   The case has already solidly been made NOT to vote for Pierpont.  (See MSF 5/9/20 The Candidates)

It would seem that Baltz would not be a good choice either.  Just when the board is wrestling with how to terminate Torkelson, who is out on medical leave, Baltz might interfere with that decision.  He is a known Torkelson friend and ally, as is Pierpont.  With the two of them on the board it could become difficult to get rid of the failed administrator.  

Baltz was the best man at Torkelson’s marriage to Joy Kohegyi, daughter of former board member Kelly Kohegyi.   Torkelson removed a longtime loyal office staff member and made her a janitor in order to give the position to Baltz’s wife, Jennifer.  Torkelson also gave lucrative contracts to Baltz (about $20,000 worth) for dubious teaching programs Brian Baltz had developed.  With this Baltz/Torkelson connection it would seem that Baltz would not vote for the much-needed permanent removal of his pal, Torkelson. 

That leaves  candidate Henry Joustra.  He operates a plumbing business and is active in community affairs.  He is president of the Mercer Chamber of Commerce and the Mercer Sno-Goers. 

At this time, it is unknown what position Joustra would take on the removal of Torkelson or what support he would give in restoring sound academic and financial programs at the school.  Only time will tell.  


  1. Deanna Pierpont should definitely not be put back on the school board. She is largely responsible for all of the problems the new board is trying to fix. If her motive of getting back on the board, along with Baltz, is get Torkelson back in the school this will never happen. The new board has dug up so much more dirt that he will never be allowed back in. If Deanna really wants to do a service for Mercer she should withdraw from the race.

  2. I agree,Pierpont did nothing but cause trouble!!!