Toledo Board of Education member Sobecki may pursue AFSCME unit’s helm

Lisa Sobecki.
Lisa Sobecki.

A Toledo Board of Education member may run for chair of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees chapter that represents employees in Lucas County’s Job and Family Services Department.

Lisa Sobecki said she is considering running for the leadership position within AFSCME Local 544. That local includes two other chapters for employees within the department; the chapter to which Ms. Sobecki belongs has between 275 and 300 members, said Steve Kowalik, staff representative for AFSCME Local 544, Ohio Council 8.

Ms. Sobecki, who was elected to the school board in 2007 and re-elected in 2011, is a first response economic support specialist for Job and Family Services.

As a school board member, she will vote this year on new contracts for Toledo Public Schools’ three employee unions, which includes an AFSCME local.

Ms. Sobecki said she sought legal counsel both through her union and independently to ensure she would have no conflicts of interest if she held a union leadership post and served on the board of education.

Since her union is a different AFSCME local than the one for TPS employees, Ms. Sobecki said she did not have a conflict.

“It’s a completely different local,” she said. “It’s a completely different contract.”

Brenda Hill, board of education president, also noted Ms. Sobecki’s AFSCME local does not represent TPS employees. She said that if Ms. Sobecki was faced with a conflict, the board would defer to legal counsel to determine if she would have to recuse herself on school board votes.

“I don’t think it’s a conflict,” Ms. Hill said, “but we would check to ask our attorney.”

Noting her dual roles as a public employee and elected official, Ms. Sobecki said her day job pays the bills, but she has also been a longtime advocate for public education.

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