Several incumbents lose their seats in hotly contested school board races

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

In an increasingly politically contentious environment for local school boards, several York County incumbents lost their seats during Tuesday's primary election.

According to unofficial results, the most prominent of them was Kenneth Sechrist, Northern York's current school board president, who placed third in a four-wide GOP primary for the district's Region 1 seat.

Sechrist, who declined to comment Wednesday, presided over the district's recent controversy over an "After School Satan Club." Northern York initially blocked the club before allowing for an event in the high school auditorium.

Elsewhere, incumbents lost seats on the Dallastown, Spring Grove and South Eastern school boards.

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Central York, which has seen two book bans in as many years, was the most hotly contested race. Nonetheless, all nine of the named candidates will appear on the ballot in November despite a number of write-ins.

Wendy Crane, one of the Central York school board candidates, outside the Commonwealth Fire Company 1 voting location in York on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

Of the five seats up for grabs, only one incumbent — Republican Wendy Crane — decided to pursue another term. She's the only member of the GOP contingent who's spoken out publicly against the book ban. Despite cross-filing, she made it to the final five on the GOP but not the Democratic side.

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The four candidates who ran specifically against the book ban — Amelia McMillan, Eric Oliver, Michael Stewart and Benjamin Walker — received the majority of the Democratic primary votes. They will be joined by Republican Jennifer Hartman, who cross-filed and hasn't taken a side publicly on the issue.

Benjamin Walker, one of the Central York school board candidates, outside the Commonwealth Fire Company 1 voting location in York on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

In addition to Crane and Hartman, Central York voters will consider Republicans Doug Bolinger, Faith Casale and Clair Weigle III in November.

In South Western, five seats were up for grabs. Most of those members filed to fight for their expiring seats. 

This district is currently in the middle of trying to decide how to handle bathrooms and locker rooms, as is the Red Lion Area School District. The board is considering a policy that calls for splitting the two current gendered options into five.

Current board members Ray Mummert, Amana Yiengst and Jay Cloupsy claimed their spots on the Democrat ballots. Mindy Blevins and Thomas Zimmerman will also appear on the ballot with them. On the Republican side, Katy Bauer, Matt Smith, Keith Gelsinger, Cristianne Brennan and Justin Lighty will be on the ballot.  

Northeastern has seven of nine seats up for grabs. Current board Vice President Tyler Kramlick will appear on the Democrat’s ticket, while Michael Ericksen and current board member Mark Jackson will appear on the Republican side for the same seat.

School Board Vice President Tyler Kramlick during the Northeastern School District Board of School Directors work session at Northeastern School District Administrative Center in Manchester, Monday, March 6, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Several write-in hopefuls appear to have heeded the district's call for candidates in the district's Region 2, since at least one write-in was logged on either party's side. Region 3’s seat received a write-in on the Democratic side, and Travis Coeyman won the Republican side. 

There are two seats up for grabs in Region 3, which Debra Reik and Teidra Marshall won on the Democrat ballot. They will face off against Sara Keefer and Chris Leathery.

In Northern York, Paul Miller and Gregory Weir will appear on the Republican ticket.

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In Red Lion, which has also pursued a policy restricting transgender students, there were five open seats. Many of the regions saw few Democratic contenders — with the exception of Matt Keene. Instead, voters wrote in names to challenge incumbent Republican board Vice President Marc Greely, as well as GOP candidates Troy Engle, Carol McGinn and Carolyn Sedora.

York City has five seats open. Residents will see incumbent board President Michael Breeland, Diane Glover Brown, Cassandra Liggins, Michael Leonard and write-in candidates appear on the Democrat ticket. 

Michael Breeland, Board President, speaking at the York City School District press conference to announce its exit from financial recovery status in York on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.

Dallastown Area School Board had five seats up for grabs. Current board member Bill Lytle lost his seat on the Republican ticket and was not on the Democrat ticket. Region 2 went to Jonathan Baldwin and Dina Aubel on the Republican side and Sarah Hostler, a current board member, and Wes Anderson on the Democrat side. Region 3 was claimed by Shannan Donovan, Michael Anderson, Eric Pierce and Karl Dotterweich.

Dover Area School District residents will see candidates Karen Miller, Rob McKinnney, Craig Kindig, Allen Hogan, David Conley, Charles Rauhauser, Dennis Dacheux and Guy Hassinger on their tickets. Rauhauser and Dennis Dacheuz are among those fighting to keep their seats. 

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In York Suburban, Lois Ann Schroeder, Joel Sears, Pinal Desai and Richard Robinson will be competing to keep their seats. 

South Eastern has write-in candidates submitted for the five open seats on the Democrat ticket. On the Republican ticket, current board members David Hansen and James Smith’s names will appear with Ryan McShane, Robert Snyder, Heather Musick and James Smith. Current board member Brian Hoffman lost the Republican ticket.

In Southern York, there were five open seats. Danielle Weaver-Watts was the only board member to file to run again. She will appear on the Democrat ticket with Rachael Zeleny, Elizabeth Arpin, Amy Hall and Charles Fallin. On the Republican side, Bill Hall, Jen Henkel, Nathan Henkel, Jeremy Hash and Joe Wilson will appear. 

Spring Grove also had five open seats, which all five members refiled for. Karen Baum, Doug Stein, Eric Barshinger, Douglas White and Benjamin Ramsay will be on the fall ballot. Barshinger will be the new candidate, while David Trettel, a returning board member, lost his spot on the ballot.

— Reach Meredith Willse at or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.