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Published: Saturday, 1/19/2008

Canales officially off Washington school board

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Washington Local Board of Education yesterday declared that the seat of its former president, Lisa Canales, is vacant and is seeking a replacement.

The school board's decision, made during a special meeting, followed by a week the refusal of the Lucas County Board of Elections to certify the November election of Ms. Canales because of problems with her amended 2005 campaign finance report.

Frank Erme, the school board's current president, said the board acted after consulting with its attorney.

Ms. Canales "had a sufficient amount of time to handle her problems," Mr. Erme said.

Ms. Canales, who was elected to her third four-year term in November, could not be reached last night for comment.

Her candidacy had been challenged by Ronald Levi, who said she missed two deadlines in 2007 for filings that reported campaign finances from her 2005 run for the District 6 seat on Toledo City Council.

Jill Kelly, the county's elections director, dismissed the challenge in September. Ms. Canales was allowed on the ballot, but Ms. Kelly said that, by law, Ms. Canales had to correct the filing situation to join the school board for another term.

Last week, Ms. Kelly said an amended 2005 report from Ms.

Canales had more mistakes than it did previously. The problems included missing expenditure pages, $1,100 in contributions lacking names and addresses, and an incorrect totaling of all contributions.

Ms. Kelly said mistakes on past campaign finance reports affect current reports.

Ms. Canales, in the past, has pointed to a former campaign treasurer who, she said, left her "high and dry with nothing."

"There is no money missing," she told the elections board last week and promised to hire an accountant. The elections board gave her 21 days to get the report in order.

Mr. Erme, who has been board president twice before, said, "It's an unusual situation."

He has some perspective. He was on the board for much of the 1990s and since January, 2006. He retired in 1999 after 39 years as a teacher, coach, athletic director, and assistant principal in Washington Local Schools.

He praised the service of Ms. Canales, who won his seat in 1999 when he did not seek re-election.

"She did a beautiful job and was a very nice person," he said.

The application deadline for the seat is 4 p.m. Feb. 1 for letters of interest to be at the board offices. The board has scheduled special meetings to interview the candidates - at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 and at 5 p.m. Feb. 7 and Feb. 8, board spokesman Wendy Farran said.

If the person appointed to Ms. Canales' seat wants to serve the rest of her term, he or she will have to run for election in 2009, Mr. Erme said.

"For me, I would like to have a person with the correct attitude," Mr. Erme said. "A person who is not there just for a political purpose, but a person who is there for the kids of your district and community."

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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