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Published: Friday, 10/14/2005

9 run for trio of seats on Eastwood board

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Nine candidates are vying for three seats on the Eastwood Local Board of Education, including a financial consultant convicted in 1994 of income tax evasion and mail fraud.

Only one incumbent is seeking re-election to the school board in the Nov. 8 general election. Board President Denis Helm, 54, joined the board in 1981 and is seeking his seventh-consecutive term.

Mr. Helm, a 1969 Eastwood High graduate who is the general manager of Luckey Oil Equipment Inc., said he wants to serve another term to maintain his involvement in education. Board members David Becker, who has two decades of board experience, and Betty Kahlenberg, a board member for a dozen years, did not file to run again.

Candidate John Schulte, 50, a Troy Township resident who had served one term on the school board from 1981-84, pleaded guilty in 1994 to tax evasion and mail fraud for embezzling a total of $115,832 from six investor-clients. He was paroled in 1995 after serving eight months in federal prison.

At the time, he blamed a bitter divorce and child custody battle with his ex-wife, Sonia Howe, for financial troubles that led him to commit the crimes. He recently won an uncontested default judgment against Howe in Wood County Common Pleas Court for more than $36 million. The judgment is based on compensatory and punitive damages that Schulte said he's entitled to because the illegal activities of his ex-wife and Marty Frankel - a former business employee at Schulte's brokerage firm in the 1980s who was also named as a defendant in the complaint - maligned his reputation and seriously damaged his business.

Frankel, a Toledo native who is serving more than 16 years in prison for masterminding a multimillion-dollar insurance fraud scheme that affected insurers and several states, was given until Thursday to reply to Schulte's motion seeking judgment against him in this case.

Ohio has no rule barring convicted felons from running for public office, though the law does address whether candidates are fit to hold a public office if elected, said James Lee, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Schulte said he is running for office again because he's concerned with fiscal responsibility at Eastwood Schools. "We should not have to pay higher taxes to maintain the schools as we have it," he said.

Several Eastwood candidates who have no public-office experience said they also are concerned with the district's finances.

Randall Cajka, 46, an auditor with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, and Mark Schulte, 51, an engineer who is John Schulte's second cousin, said more taxes are not the cure and that they can find a better way.

"The main focus is getting the schools back on track," said Mr. Cajka, who audits nursing homes, child-support payments, and other finances for the state.

Freedom Township resident Tim Shank, 47, a commodity-risk manager, said he wants to be a part of the decision-making process when it comes to school finances. He said he wants to give back to the district that gave an education to his three children.

A business consultant for who spent more than 30 years with IBM, Roger Bostdorff, 54, of Webster Township, said his experience would help the district cure its financial ills.

Greg Pierce, 35, an information technology service technician, said he wants to foster better communication between the school board and the community.

A mother of two in the district, Patti Himburg, 44, said she wants to be an advocate for other parents. "I think my concerns are just being able to make sure everything is for the kids, and to make sure the school system runs well," said the assistant at Michael Realty of Toledo.

Challenger Lewis Renollet, 13351 Wayne Rd. in Freedom Township, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.com

or 419-724-6088.



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