School board races around the county this election cycle are quieter than usual, but York Suburban's race should be intense.

York Suburban's school board has four seats open and eight candidates, including all four incumbents and one recent board member.

Elsewhere in the county, some seats have no candidates, and others feature only uncontested incumbents seeking election, a noticeable difference from the past few school board elections charged by property tax ire.

In York Suburban, board president Lynne Leopold-Sharp, Emily Bates, Cathy Shaffer and John DeHaas are running for re-election.

"There's still work to be done," DeHaas said.

DeHaas said he thinks his fellow incumbents, as well as candidate Ellen Freireich, a former board member, bring a lot of experience to the table that is "invaluable."

Bates said she is seeking re-election because "I think York Suburban is headed in the right direction."

Shaffer agreed and said she would like to stay on so she can help find a replacement for Kate Orban when she eventually retires, as Shaffer said a superintendent search is a board's most important function.

Freireich, a longtime board member who lost her re-election bid in 2011, hasn't lost her visibility in York Suburban, as she still attends many meetings and district events.


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Freireich said she was encouraged by the community to get back on the board, and thought "it's important to stay abreast of everything going on."

The challengers: Those five will face challengers Ralph Felter, K. Nicholas Pandelidis and Jane Regan.

Felter said a York Suburban event this winter about running for and serving on the school board helped give him inspiration to run. He and his wife have lived in Spring Garden Township for a decade; he works as a transportation consultant.

"We feel public education

is a very, very importantthing," said Felter, 67, of his family, which includes two grown children.

Spring Garden Township residents Pandelidis and Regan had different reasons to get involved. Pandelidis, a York Suburban graduate and an orthopedic surgeon, said he has fiscal concerns with how Suburban is run. The district needs to be a better steward of taxpayer money, he said.

Regan, a mother of a sophomore and a senior at the high school, said she's been active in school events and groups. But she wanted to take it to the next level by joining the board.

"Somebody that has a child just going through the process can help," Regan said.

Around the county: Elsewhere, there's not enough competition.

Dallastown has been a hot spot for school board races, with an entirely new board seated in the last two elections. In the primary, none of the district's four available board seats is contested.

Eastern York, South Eastern and West Shore each have a four-year seat for which no one is running. The same is true for two-year seats in Northeastern, Red Lion and South Eastern. The Hanover Public School Board has a two-year seat and two four-year seats without candidates.

The York City School Board has four four-year seats and one two-year seat up for grabs, except no one is seeking the two-year seat. Incumbents Margie Orr, Diane Brown, Aaron Willford Jr. and Jose Santiago are all running, while Sandie Walker decided not to run for re-election for undisclosed reasons.

Nikki Suchanic, the county elections director, said a person could get on the November ballot for one of those unfilled seats if he or she gets enough write in votes under a single party. Ten write-in votes are required to make the general election ballot for seats outside the city, 100 for a city school board seat.

Failing a write-in campaign, any seats with no candidate this fall could be won by as little as one single vote, she said.

"Hopefully it won't get to that point," Suchanic said.

The budget pressures of the last few school board election cycles might have driven higher interest in running, Suchanic said.

As a citizen, she added, it's frustrating to see seats left with no takers.

"I think it's important for people to stand up and take an interest," she said.

-- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com