Next Tuesday (May 19th) is election day for five of the nine seats on the East Penn School Board. Here is who I will be voting for:
All five of these candidates have demonstrated their commitment to public education as centrally important to a democratic society. All five have made clear their vision of school board work as volunteer service for the good of the community, not a platform to advance ideological agendas. I have served for over a year now on the board with incumbents Bacher, Ballard, and Vinovskis. I have not agreed with any of them on all of the issues, but I’m confident all three share my pro-education principles. They have earned my respect for the arguments they make, the questions they ask, and the seriousness with which they take their responsibility to students and taxpayers. Of the four new candidates, only Champagne and Mathesz made themselves available to answer questions from the public at the League of Women Voters forum two weeks ago. Both expressed strong support for our schools and both possess the professional qualifications and community involvement to make valued contributions to the board.
School board races in Pennsylvania are decided in the primary election. No matter which candidates you prefer, please be sure to make your voice heard by voting Tuesday, May 19th. Polls are open from 7am until 8pm.
Want to Learn More?
Check out the League of Women Voters non-partisan election guide for all the candidates, which I’ve reproduced below for your convenience. I’ve also included all literature provided by the candidates at the League of Women Voters forum.
League of Women Voters’ Guide
EAST PENN SCHOOL DISTRICT
Alburtis, Emmaus & Macungie Boroughs;
Lower Macungie & Upper Milford Townships
4-year term. Vote for five
EDUCATION: M.Ed. Lehigh, 1977, K - 8 Reading Specialist; B.A. Wilkes, 1972, Elementary Education and German Foreign Language; Graduate, Wyoming Valley West High School 1968
OCCUPATION: Retired Educator and Businesswoman with 37 years work experience
QUALIFICATIONS: 26 yrs. in Public Education – Allentown School District and Livingston School District, NJ; 5 yrs. Manager of Training, TIAA-CREF, pension company///
RESPONSE: As a teacher, I understand the challenges facing our district. I believe the education of our children is paramount and problems are not solved with money. I will work to maximize every dollar spent so that our children receive the best education possible. My goal is to provide a safe and effective learning environment that allows children, as individuals, to become free thinkers that love learning not only now, but in college and beyond.
WALLY R. VINOVSKIS
EDUCATION: Benson High School, Omaha, NE 1982; B.A. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1987; M.Div. Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, 1992
QUALIFICATIONS: Lehigh Valley Community Broadcaster’s Assn. – BoD (4); The Lutheran Haven, Oviedo, FL – BoD (13); EPSD: School Director (2), Act 1 Tax Study Commission, Steering Committee 2008-2014 Strategic Plan, EHS Middle-States Accreditation Steering Committee, Take Back Our Children Task Force, Superintendent’s Parents’ Advisory Committee (5), Coordinated School Health Committee.
RESPONSE: The major issue facing school boards today is the economy. Schools are being challenged to focus on student achievement and improve test scores with far fewer resources. The School District needs to seriously evaluate what serves the core educational mission of our schools and look for reductions and efficiencies wherever possible. We simply cannot continue to raise local taxes. We need to run a tight ship while maintaining our legacy of high achievement in education.
CHARLES H. BALLARD
Upper Milford Township
EDUCATION: B.S. Nuclear Engineering, Michigan, 1968. M.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Berkeley, 1974. Retired Professional Engineer, Pennsylvania/California
OCCUPATION: Retired Professional Engineer
QUALIFICATIONS: Approaching 20 years of service on East Penn School Board. Pennsylvania School Board Association Vice President 2014. Have served as President and Vice-President of the East Penn School Board
RESPONSE: Will we continue to have public schools, supporting public supervision and input, in the future? Public education is the great "leveler" in American society and provides the means for providing all of our citizens the opportunity to get along with others and responsible citizenship. There are people out there, some running for school board, who have agendas that have nothing to do with education children and have all to do with weakening or eliminating public education. I am running to preserve public education.
EDUCATION: B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois, 1981
OCCUPATION: Electric Utility Consultant
QUALIFICATIONS: Father of three EPSD students (one a 2014 graduate of EHS); over 30 years of business and management experience, including 14 years as an executive at PPL corporation; former director at the Da Vinci Science Center; EPLC School Board Candidate Workshop.
RESPONSE: EPSD has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in public education. I believe that a strong district should not only challenge students academically, but provide a well rounded educational experience. This includes opportunities to participate in the arts, athletics, or a technical education. To continue this success it takes board members who can appropriately balance the best interest of our schools with fiscal responsibility to tax-payers. Strong public schools are the foundation for growing and prosperous communities.
RICHARD J. MATHESZ
EDUCATION: Northampton High School 1979
OCCUPATION: Corporate Security Operations Manager
QUALIFICATIONS: Past President of Lehigh Valley Crime Stoppers, 4 years; Current Board Member Lehigh Valley Crime Stoppers, 16 years; Member of American Society of Industrial Security, 16 years. Subject matter expert – Security, 36 years. Versed in contract negotiation and process improvement
RESPONSE: It is important to be engaged in maintaining a community that continues to thrive through the nurturing and development of future generations. My life and professional experiences enable me to be a resource to the school district in preserving the high academic standards we in the East Penn School District expect for our children.
EDUCATION: M.S. / Ph.D., Electric Engineering, Stanford University, 1989 / 1995; B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California, Valedictorian, 1988
OCCUPATION: Engineering Manager, Avago Technologies, Breinigsville
QUALIFICATIONS: EPSD Parent. EPSD Board Member since 2011, VP since 2013. 17 years Management Experience. Attended School Board Workshops: Budgeting, Data Analysis, Collective Bargaining, Child Development
RESPONSE: The school board’s duty and challenge is to provide a well-rounded education—one that includes rigorous academics along with music, art and athletic opportunities—to every student in the district without placing undue burden on taxpayers. Good schools are made possible by responsible fiscal policy and benefit the entire community through increased property values and the economic opportunity that stems from an educated workforce.