Candidate Mark Wortman holds his campaign sign.

Run it Back

Elkhorn High School legend returns to dominate in the polls

After hanging up his football coach and history teacher titles, many students wondered if Mark Wortman would ever return. Wanting to continue his career in education and give back to the Elkhorn community, Wortman thought it was his time to be on the bench after his retirement. 

While some candidates want to change district policy dramatically, Wortman stands firm on the belief in Elkhorn’s tradition of excellence.

“Let’s continue the excellence and keep good teachers here. Entice good teachers, hire good teachers, reward good teachers,” Wortman said. 

Elkhorn Public Schools is famous for being one of the top school districts in Nebraska. They pride themselves on having one of the highest average ACT scores in the state. While the district may seem perfect on the outside, it has more to improve. 

“[I want to] keep the curriculum challenging for people who want to go to Colorado State or UNL, or wherever you go,” Wortman said. 

When voters consider each candidate’s stances, history teacher John Bacus believes that Wortman’s stance on improving the schools via teachers and curriculum to help the kids will enhance his chances. 

“It’s why people came here; they came for the schools—no doubt about it. As someone who’s taught here for 41 years, he would certainly have a feel for that,” Bacus said. 

This year’s election will be entirely different from past years, with ten people running for three seats. According to Bacus, there have never been so many candidates. 

Wortman has been a familiar face to Elkhorn High for over 40 years. Thus, his chances may improve by making it past the primary election if former students and parents see his name on the ballot. 

“I hope parents have seen that I’ve tried to do what’s best for their children and see my name and recognize it and have positive feelings,” Wortman said. 

Since the district is multiplying, it brings some challenges to each person’s campaign. 

“It used to be that everyone knew the board members. Now, with three different high schools and all these different neighborhoods, there are [more] people who want to have their input heard,” Bacus said. 

When it comes to the qualifications of Wortman, his 41-year career sets him apart from others. 

“I think he’d be a great addition to the school board because he has had so many experiences with everyone on it and administrators. He knows the school system inside and out,” Wortman’s daughter and English teacher Jennifer Hadley said. 

As the campaign season has progressed, some other candidates have had events to converse with voters. In past years, Wortman remembers a town-hall-style meeting with all candidates. He would be happy to set up a time and have the opportunity for voters to hear his stances. 

He prides himself as a candidate that does not plan for dramatic changes, nor does he have hot topics that can be controversial. 

“Education is dynamic at times. To keep a ceiling of excellence is not going to be easy, but I think that’s what we need to do,” Wortman said. 

With 16.36% of the votes, Wortman earned the most votes in the May 10th primary election. Thus, he will be heading to the general election in November along with five more candidates. 

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