All the signs littering our roadways is a reminder that another local election is upon us. The makeup of the East Penn School Board for at least the next two years will be determined in no small part by whether you– and those you know– show up this coming Tuesday (May 21st) to vote for the best candidates. Because of the strange (and awful) way the parties control the process in Pennsylvania, these primary elections often determine who will eventually sit on the board after the general election in November.
Six of the nine spots on the school board are up to voters in this election cycle. I plan to vote for the for the four incumbents who are willing to serve again: Ken Bacher, Paul Champagne, Josh Levinson, and Allan Byrd. The reason? Simply put, the current board has more in-depth and wide-ranging discussions of issues currently facing our district than at any time since I joined the board six years ago. I don’t always agree with each of these candidates, but I respect their perspectives, insight, and commitment to public education as a core foundation of the community.
I also believe either Bart Bailey or Jeff Jankowski would be a fine addition to the board. I’ve met both of them, looked at what they’ve shared about their priorities, and believe– like the present members of the board– they are pro-education candidates.
Finally, Naomi Winch is a public education supporter running unopposed for the sixth spot on the board (a two year term that is separate from the others).
Two additional candidates for school board, David Bocchino and Diane Schaffer, are not the right choice for our district. They’re running as a team rather than as individuals (with one handling the other’s election paperwork to get on the ballot). It’s difficult to get information about either of them, so I’ve had to rely on publicly available records. Schaffer served many years ago on the Pleasant Valley School Board. She’s only quoted twice in local newspapers from the period, saying she believed teacher salaries have skyrocketed. She has partnered with Bocchino, a lawyer suspended and nearly disbarred for misconduct five years ago (he was reinstated late last year). They’ve received help in their school board campaign from Barbara Tantaros, a local resident involved in bringing the Mississippi-based hate group American Family Association to threaten legal action against the district last year (more on that in an earlier post).
Here’s a rundown of where you can get more information on each candidate:
- Ken Bacher: www.ken4eastpenn.com
- Paul Champagne: www.champagne4epsd.com/
- Josh Levinson: https://www.facebook.com/LevinsonforEastPenn
- Allan Byrd: Friends of Allan Byrd Handout
- Bart Bailey: Press PAUSE to Disrupt Bias
- Jeff Jankowski: https://www.facebook.com/Jeff-Jankowski-Candidate-for-East-Penn-School-Board-Director-404871096963771/
- Naomi Winch: https://www.facebook.com/NaomiWinchforEastPenn/
- David Bocchino: none that I can find (will update if I learn more)
- Diane Schaffer: none that I can find (will update if I learn more)
Local elections have an immediate, direct, and visible impact on our community. Please be sure to vote this coming Tuesday! Polls are open from 7am until 8pm.