It’s a contested race for Sylvania school board with five candidates having filed for three open seats.
Shannon Szyperski, Greg Feller, and Gregory LaManna are challenging incumbents Julie Hoffman and Stephen Rothschild. Current board member Dave Spiess’ seat is also up, although he did not file for re-election.
All three newcomers cited dissatisfaction with the district’s plan to redraw school boundaries for the 2018-19 school year as a factor in their decision to run. The issue sparked concerned parents to pack school board meetings during the past months of the 2017 school year. Nine percent of elementary and 12 percent of junior high students will change schools come the fall of 2018 under the new plan.
Ms. Szyperski, a longtime Sylvania resident who attended district schools as a child, is currently the Sylvania Schools Parent Organization president and has three children in the district. She said she decided to run because she wants to have a say in district-wide policy decisions.
“I wasn’t happy with the lack of transparency with the redistricting process, and honestly the lack of transparency with some other things, too,” she said. “I think there could be a better dialogue with the public, and I’d really like to be a part of making that happen.”
Mr. Feller was another vocal opponent of the redistricting process, and all three of his children will be affected by the change.
“If I’m going to complain about it, then I’m going to step up and do something about it,” he said.
The civil engineer said he wants to ensure every board decision is supported by facts.
“I want to take personal agendas out of the decision-making process and make informed decisions based on facts and data,” he said.
Mr. LaManna was traveling out of the country Wednesday but was reached by a Blade reporter via text message. He said the redistricting plan wasn’t the main reason he decided to run, but it was a factor.
“Many parents, teachers and other residents have spoke with me about their concerns about how it was handled or mishandled,” he wrote. “Those parents encouraged me to run to bring true engagement and consensus building to the school board.”
Mr. Rothschild is finishing up his first term on the board and has three children who graduated from Southview High School. He joins Ms. Hoffman in filing for re-election. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
“I think it takes time to understand the workings of the board to really be effective,” Mr. Rothschild said. “I think in my first term I helped to pass an important school levy, and I want to continue to be in a position to use my experience to help the district succeed for kids and taxpayers.”
Other school races
Other contested school board races include Washington Local, Toledo Public, Maumee City, and Perrysburg.
Washington Local’s race may prove to be contentious. Patrick Hickey, a former Washington Local superintendent who resigned from the district in 2015 after two internal investigations into his conduct, is banned from district property but is running for a seat on the board.
He’s running against incumbent Patricia Carmean, who filed for a civil protection order against him on accusations he harassed and threatened her. A magistrate denied her request, but told the two not to have further contact.
Board member Eric Kiser joins Ms. Carmean in running for re-election. Challengers include Melanie Garcia, Cindy Perry, Mark Hughes, Brad McDonald, Thomas Ilstrup, and Irshad Bannister, in addition to Mr. Hickey.
James Langenderfer’s term is up, but he did not file for re-election Wednesday.
Perrysburg's school board has four candidates running for three seats. Eric Bennington, Gretchen Downs, and Sue Larimer, all incumbents, are running again. Dora E. G. Lopez de Alonzo, who could not be reached for comment, is also running.
Wednesday also was the deadline for those who wish to run for township or village trustee. Contested races include Waterville Township, Spencer Township, Sylvania Township, Village of Whitehouse, Village of Ottawa Hills, Swanton Township, Richfield Township, Providence Township, Monclova Township and Jerusalem Township.
Spencer Township has six candidates seeking two seats. Incumbents Michael Hood and Shawn Valentine are facing four challengers. Jacqueline Dale, Dean Croskey, Kristopher Ruhl, and Adam Thomas are also running.
The village of Whitehouse has five candidates running for three seats. Bill May, Louann Artiaga, and Frank Billings, all incumbents, are running again. Madisyn Curry and Richard Bingham, Waterville Township's police chief, are also running.
Waterville Township added Julie Theroux to its already contested election. Richard “Duke” Wheeler is running against incumbents Kyle Hertzfeld and Karen Schneider. Brett Warner and Kyle Mossman are seeking to fill the remainder of an unexpired term.
Blade writer Zack Lemon contributed to this story.
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