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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

Competition high in some school board races, low in others


Competition for seats on school boards is high in some east suburban districts, and nonexistent in others.

There are contested races on Nov. 6 for seats on the Genoa, Woodmore, and Eastwood school boards, but not for the Oregon and Northwood school boards.

Over in Ottawa County, five candidates are running for two seats on the Genoa Area Local Board of Education. Incumbent Thomas Scheanwald is running against challengers Sharon Ann Bittner, Laura Meinke, William Schutz, and Jeffrey Trainer.

Board member Leslie Wyse said he is not running for a third term because he has just retired and plans to spend more time traveling around the country to visit family.

Mr. Scheanwald has been on the school board for five years. The senior vice president for a physician billing and practice management company said he wants to remain on the board for another four years to see a number of projects come to fruition, including one proposed by the Ohio School Facilities Commission for new district elementary and high schools.

He said he also wants to continue working to balance the district's budget without impacting academics. "We need to be creative... how we reduce expenses without affecting the quality of education, and I think we do that," he said.

Mrs. Bittner, 60, has never held an elected public office, but she has been involved in the school district for nearly 30 years as a bus driver, custodian, cook, playground aide, and cafeteria aide Plus, she's watched her husband, Darryl, serve on the Genoa Village Council.

She said she hopes to balance the current school board of men with a retired woman who has experience serving as president of two local unions.

"I just feel like we need a change and feel like we need a woman and a retiree on the board," she said.

Mrs. Meinke, 33, is a homemaker whose two oldest children attend Genoa schools. Though she's never held public office, she said she's already involved with the elementary schools by serving with the Parent Teachers Organization and helping keep the elementary school library open.

Mr. Schutz, 58, is a Clay Township police officer who has lived in the district for 20 years. The former clerk of Genoa said he has gotten to know the district and the people involved in it fairly well through his job, and is interested in doing something for his community.

Mr. Trainer could not be reached for comment.

In Ottawa and Sandusky counties, five candidates are running for three open board seats on the Woodmore Local Board of Education, including all three incumbents: Michael DeStazio, Stephen Huss, and Marsha Schettine. They're being challenged by Rodger Jimison and write-in candidate Jeffrey Croll.

Mr. DeStazio, 53, is running for his second term. The retired Penta Career Center educator said he wants to continue to help trim the budget without affecting academics and continue seeking community involvement.

Mrs. Schettine, 51, has been a board member for four of the 15 years she's lived in the district. The paraprofessional said she's running for re-election because she's devoted to the community and she's committed to serve the students.

"I want to continue making a difference," she said.

Mr. Croll, 46, a regional salesman for a gas company, is running as a write-in candidate because he said several people asked him to run and because he missed the deadline for filing with the county board of elections.

Candidates who could not be reached for comment were: Mr. Huss, board president who was elected to the board in 2003, and Mr. Jimison, a former Elmore councilman who ran and lost his bid for election to the school board in 2003.

In Wood County, two incumbents are running against one challenger for a seat on the Eastwood Local Board of Education.

Bob Kuhlman and Timothy Shank are looking to retain their seats, but Mark Schulte is hoping to uproot one of them.

Mr. Kuhlman was appointed board president this year and was elected to his first term on the board in 2003.

Mr. Shank was appointed to the board in December, 2005, after he unsuccessfully ran for a board seat in November of that year.

Mr. Schulte also unsuccessfully ran for a seat in 2005, but is hoping to have better luck this November.

In Lucas County, neither Cathy Johnson nor Steve Hornyak is running for another four-year term on the Oregon Board of Education.

That means that both Eric Heintschel and Diane Karoly will take over if they each get at least one vote in November because they are the only ones on the ballot.

Mr. Heintschel is a former board member who served one term before deciding not to run for re-election in 2005 and Mrs. Karoly is a newcomer.

In Wood County, the Northwood Local Board of Education will remain the same after the November election because both incumbents, Denise Niese and Michael Wasch, do not have competition for their seats.

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