A desire to improve their east suburban school districts is a common reason why many newcomers said they decided to run for office in the Northwood, Rossford, or Woodmore school board contested races on Nov. 8.
In Wood County, two incumbents are running for re-election on the Northwood school board against two newcomers for three open seats. Incumbent Randy Kozina, who has been on the school board for 14 years, decided to run for Northwood City Council instead.
Scott Phelps, 45, and Michael Melnyk, 48, school board president and vice president respectively, will be running for their second terms. They both said that while they feel the district is heading in the right direction, they want to work to improve the district's status on the Ohio report card.
"There's unfinished business, and I'd like to be there to see some of those things through," said Mr. Phelps, a Sears general manager.
Mr. Melnyk, a registered nurse, said he also would like to have some input in choosing a new district superintendent.
The challengers are James Adams, 42, a maintenance mechanic, and Jeffrey Culler, 45, the buildings, grounds, and transportation supervisor for the Eastwood Local School District.
Mr. Adams, the high school athletic booster president, said he sees some areas that are in need of improvement, while Mr. Culler, a part-time volunteer with the Northwood Fire Department who served one term as a city councilman in the late 1990s, said he simply wants to be a part of the district's successes.
In Rossford, six people are running for two, four-year terms, and one candidate is running for a two-year, unexpired term.
Incumbent Joseph Minarcin, Jr., 58, this year's school board president who is retired from the Ohio International Guard, is completing his third consecutive term, and said he wants to continue to show his commitment to the district's students.
Incumbent Richard Hotz, 51, a math teacher at Otsego High School who's completing his first term, said he wants to address several upcoming issues - among them the projected increase in enrollment and upcoming levies - from a board seat.
Dawn Burks, 34, a guidance counselor at Perrysburg High School who was appointed to the board in August, is running for her first four-year term because she wants to understand why the community rejected the most recent funding request.
The challengers are Jacqueline Brown, 41; Keith Heidebrink, 45, and Diane McKinney, 48.
Ms. Brown, a senior loan officer at Alpha Mortgage, said she wants to improve the district's Ohio report card score and apply for more grants in an attempt to save tax dollars.
Because the district is housed in Rossford and Perrysburg Township, Mr. Heidebrink, a self-employed interior carpenter and contractor who lives in the township, said he wants to represent the township on the board and would like to foster better attendance and participation at board meetings.
Mrs. McKinney, a homemaker and substitute teacher who has served on two of the district's master plan focus groups and subcommittees, said she wants to be more creative with the district's finances and make several minor changes - like taking the pop machines out of the schools.
Only one person has filed petitions to run for the unexpired term - Brian Hughes, 48, vice president of finance for Sun Federal Credit Union in Maumee. "It's a shorter term, so I can get my feet wet," he said. "This is kind of a dress rehearsal for two years from now."
A meet-the-candidates night is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Rossford High School, 701 Superior St.
Neither incumbent filed petitions to run for another term on the Woodmore school board, which oversees a district in Ottawa and Sandusky counties. Four challengers are vying for the seats held by Donna Beam, with eight years of school board experience, and Dean Sandwisch, with four years.
Edward Magsig, 56, a machinist, was elected to the school board in 1999 but was not re-elected in 2003. Because no incumbents have decided to run, he said the district would benefit from his prior board experience and financial expertise.
Other candidates with no public office experience include Chadwick Bringman, 34, Lori Sue Schultze, 33, and Mark Rosenberger, 44, a crane operator who could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Bringman, chief executive officer of the Epilepsy Center of Northwest Ohio, said he understands state funding and thinks he would be able to "make sound decisions in this shaky economic time."
Ms. Schultze, a stay-at-home mom and substitute teacher, said she thinks now is a good time to become involved in the district because she believes it's on the right track.