Sykes, Hill won’t run for TPS board in November

1 new candidate files, 5 others get petitions


The Toledo Board of Education will have at least two new members next year.

Of the three members whose terms are up this year, only Bob Vasquez plans to run for re-election in November. Larry Sykes has filed to run for Toledo City Council, while board President Brenda Hill said Monday she will not run for health reasons. Ms. Hill, 66, said she wants to run, but decided the stress of the job was too much.

“I’ve asked both my doctors, and they said I should slow down and do something that is less stressful,” she said.

Ms. Hill said she planned to stay active in the community and hoped to focus on volunteer work or a board that had less demands. She plans to finish her term.

With the departures of Ms. Hill and Mr. Sykes, this year’s school board election should make for a vibrant competition, at least compared to 2011, when incumbent Lisa Sobecki and newcomer Cecelia Adams ran unopposed. While only conservative activist Tina Henold has filed officially, five others have pulled petition papers at the Lucas County Board of Elections, and at least two others are circulating their own petitions.

Those who have pulled petitions are:

Mr. Vasquez, who was appointed to the board in 2008 and served as board president during parts of 2009 through the end of 2011.

Perry Lefevre, a teacher at Northview High School in the Sylvania school district and president of its teachers’ union, the Sylvania Education Association.

Aji Green, who unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2011 and school board in 2009.

Arthur Henry IV, who has been a member of the Lucas County Republican Central Committee and the watchdog Urban Coalition.

The most recent to pull petitions is Maynard Porter, a Waite High School graduate and dockworker at FedEx Freight. He has coached freshmen football at Waite and has been a longtime basketball official in Ohio.

Mr. Porter said he would like the district to strengthen its sports programs and bring back busing for students within a mile radius of schools.

Potential candidates can circulate petitions without pulling them from the board of elections.

Chris Varwig, a former Parent Congress president, is collecting signatures to be a candidate and has a Facebook page for her campaign. She’s long been involved with parent, volunteer, and advisory roles in Toledo Public Schools. With her daughter now graduated from TPS, Ms. Varwig said she decided it was time to become involved more deeply in the district.

“As a parent and a taxpayer, I feel I need to get involved in the process,” she said.

Among her priorities is to strengthen parent engagement at schools and involve them more in decision making within TPS.

Also planning to run is Polly Taylor-Gerken, who worked for 30 years in the district. She started as a secretary and worked her way through school, becoming a school psychologist based in the Libbey learning community.

Ms. Taylor-Gerken, who is married to Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken, said she feels TPS is in the midst of a transformation, citing the recent hiring of Romules Durant as interim superintendent and a community-hubs initiative as examples. She said she is excited about those changes and wants to take part and help further them.

Nominating petitions for the board of education must be turned in to the board of elections by Aug. 7.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at:,

419-724-6086, or on

Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.