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Published: Wednesday, 2/16/2005

Monroe County: 5 local districts on ballots for board selections

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Voters in five local school districts will be presented with choices at the ballot box May 3 for their local school board in the first election under a new election consolidation law in Michigan.

The deadline for candidate registration for this year's earlier school elections was last week, about a month earlier than in previous years.

But the early deadline didn't seem to dissuade those intent on seeking one of the hardest positions in politics.

The Michigan legislature passed an election consolidation law that was signed by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm in December 2003.

The law turned responsibility for school elections from the districts to local units of government.

It also limited to four the number of dates schools can hold elections each year.

In all, 23 people applied for the 14 seats up for grabs on local boards of education. Just half of the incumbents currently holding those seats will seek re-election.

Those stepping aside include longtime Bedford stalwart John Mohr; Ida's Jeffrey Weeman, and five board presidents: Airport's Elaine Hollister, Dundee's Vince Goff, Jefferson's Richard McDevitt, and Monroe Public's Wendy Barth.

Airport Community School District incumbent board secretary James Geiermann, 39, of Monroe Street, Carleton, is seeking re-election to one of two open seats also being sought by Allen Burger, 43, of Armstrong Street, South Rockwood; Patricia Malvitz, 46, of Grafton Road, Carleton; and John Griffith, 55, of Burns Road, Carleton.

Bedford Public Schools Board of Education only had one candidate file to fill Mr. Mohr's seat. Barring a write-in candidate, Reggie Monday, 58, of Wiltshire Drive, Lambertville, will become the seven-member board's fourth female member.

Blissfield Community School District voters also have only a single candidate for that board's one open seat as incumbent Norris Klump, of Ridgeville Road, Blissfield, seeks another four-year term on the board.

Dundee Community School District voters will choose from among four candidates to fill two open seats. Incumbent board treasurer Patricia Dempsey, 46, of Penfield Street, will face off against fellow Dundee residents Penny Louise Guitierrez, 50, of McBride Street; Dick Boldt, 50, of Van Nest Street; and Ken Papenhagen, 36, of South Custer Road.

Ida Public School District voters have a choice to make - albeit a confusing one - among three candidates to fill Mr. Weeman's seat. Dale Heil, 38, of Strasburg Road, LaSalle, will compete against Jody Hoffman, 46, of West Dunbar Road, Monroe, and Jeff Hoffman, 42, of Lewis Avenue, Ida, to fill the seat. Jeff and Jody Hoffman are unrelated.

Jefferson School District endured a tumultuous several years on its school board and within its administration, but has experienced relative calm since a recall election ejected two board members in 2003. Two candidates filed to fill the seat being vacated by Mr. McDevitt, including 18-year-old Anthony Carroll II, of Oakwood Avenue, Monroe; and Zebbie Probst, 49, of South Street, Newport.

Monroe Public Schools, Monroe County's largest school district, will see three Monroe residents vie for the single open seat on the board of education. Brian Sexton, 35, of East Eighth Street; Aaron Mason, 34, of Oak Knoll Drive; and Charles Randall Watkins, 53, of Windsor Court, will square off for the right to succeed Mrs. Barth.

Mason Consolidated, Summerfield, and Whiteford Agricultural school districts will experience less excitement about their electoral outcomes this spring. Five of six incumbents are unopposed for re-election, and there is only one other candidate seeking the single remaining seat.

Mason incumbents Bill Saul, 61, of East Stein Road, LaSalle and Pamela Cousino, 39, of Wilson Drive, Erie are unopposed for the two open board seats.

Summerfield incumbent board member Clinton H. Ford, Jr., 73, of Forest Avenue, is being joined on the ballot by fellow Petersburg resident Bruce Kitchen, 40, of Saline Street, who is seeking the seat being vacated by Michael Goodin.

Whiteford incumbent Dan Martin, 44, of Consear Road, Ottawa Lake, is unopposed for the board's single open seat.



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