MECHANICSBURG – Seven candidates vying for three seats on the Mechanicsburg school board had the opportunity to speak to their constituents at a Meet the Candidates Night on Monday.
The event was sponsored by the Mechanicsburg Lions Club and held at the Mechanicsburg United Methodist Church. In additional to the school board candidates, speakers also included one Goshen Township trustee running unopposed, the fiscal officer of Union Township, two members of the Mechanicsburg Village Council and several representatives supporting various levies.
School board candidates Todd Boeck, Tammy Huemmer and Mary Reiser, along with incumbents Brian Forrest, Mack Delong and Scott Delong, each had five minutes to speak, followed by two minutes to answer questions from the audience. Another candidate, Sarah Bradford, was not able to attend this event.
“I hope to bring to Mechanicsburg school board my knowledge and my problem-solving skills,” Boeck said. “My skills of managing people and businesses will help to prepare our students for success in life while protecting the interests of taxpayers. The job as I see it is a three-legged stool: you have the children, you have the teachers and employees there, and you have the taxpayers that support them. If we’re not working together and successful, the school won’t raise our property values, won’t make this town a better place to live, and it also won’t be an asset to the community. I believe it is now, and I want to continue to make it so and give my efforts to that activity.”
“I am a committed mom and I am committed to our school system,” Huemmer said. “My experience covers many areas such as budgeting, balanced budgeting, community building, student interaction, love for people, enthusiastic leadership, and an empathy for those who are in need … My goal for school board position is to bring parental perspective, passion and leadership not only to the board, but to the parents, students and teachers. I’m very proud of our current board and the obstacles that they have faced in the past years. I would love to bring my talents and passion for the school into the community.”
“Three reasons why to vote for me for Mechanicsburg School Board: 1) I have a different perspective, I believe it is important for all people to be represented. I’m a mom, I volunteer weekly at the school, I’m active in the community, I have a small business in town, I’m excited and ready to take on the position,” Reiser said. “Number two – education for all. I want to make sure the current vision of the school board – the three E’s: employment, enrollment, enlist – are available for all graduates … Third and most important to me is that I have a vested interest in the school. I graduated from Mechanicsburg, I’ve lived here all my life, I have three children that are enrolled in the school, I’m proud of our school, and I want to be more involved for the success of our children.”
“My time on the board hasn’t always been just terribly easy,” Forrest said. “There was a time not too long ago that we were in a real budget crunch and we had to make some tough decisions. Those decisions were not easy, what we had to cut, and those did at that time take some opportunities away from kids. But in the meantime – the past five years that we’ve been working through that – we’ve restored nearly all those including a fully-staffed art and music department that brought back opportunities that weren’t there prior to those cuts.”
“I understand the concept of changing business development and structure, and this will help me in my ability to aid and serve on the board,” Mack Delong said. “Being a part of such a tight-knit community is what I appreciate about being a part of Mechanicsburg, from the organization, the teachers, the district, family and friends I have grown to know and appreciate is what makes me proud to be a part of the work. Serving as a board member requires us to put our children’s interests at heart. Seeing the relationships my children have made with their teachers allows me to know we have great caring teachers and school personnel here in the burg. We’ve seen some great results with the current state report card that was presented to us last month. As a board member I will aim to keep Mechanicsburg still the best small school in Ohio, provide our children with new opportunities but keep our sight on tradition and heritage. If elected I look forward to building a future relationship with many of you moving forward. Creating an avenue of communication will help achieve our goals and provide our children with future success. Together we can prepare our children for a life path of success and for success in their lives after Mechanicsburg High School.”
“Eight years ago I ran for school board because I thought that it lacked a fiscal accountability, public responsibility, transparency in where we were at financially at the time, that I thought I could offer some guidance or support,” Scott Delong said. “I’m proud to say that I think we went from a bottom line of right around $57,000 to a little over five million today that we’ve invested in our school district, rehiring positions that were strategically cut and brought them back as we were able to.”
Mayor Greg Kimball moderated the event, and also interjected a few comments when members of the audience asked questions about school safety.
“Student safety should be our number one priority,” Mack Delong said. “Keeping them safe is obviously what we’re looking to do. But at the same time we need to make sure we are bridging the communications with the police force, or with the fire department, and that we keep the communication there and that way we can stay at the forefront of opportunities. I think many of us would say there are a lot of opportunists out there to take advantage of some difficult times and some unfortunate situations, but I think that as long as we stay at the forefront and keep that in mind – I will tell you the things that I’ve been seeing just as of late keeps me comfortable with where we’re going. I do realize that not only with the teachers but also the district office is really concerned with it, and it is a daily responsibility for them to keep us and keep our children safe.”
“Two years ago, in concert with the school, the village now provides a school resource officer, and that program has worked out very well,” Kimball added. “One of the things I’m proudest of is the last graduation our high school’s resource officer was asked by two or three seniors to present their diplomas to them, so that says he’s doing his job and we’re doing our job. As I tell people when they criticize how much we spend on our police department: anything you see on TV or read in the paper can happen here. Who would have thought there would be a shooting in West Liberty? Anything can happen. It’s a different society today, so we take it very seriously also.”
Dan Walter spoke about a levy for the Champaign County Historical Society and Kay Miller addressed the Goshen Memorial Park levy. Goshen Township, Union Township, and the Village of Mechanicsburg also have fire levies on the ballot this election, which Kimball said he was in support of.
“As the village, we support Union Township’s fire levy,” Kimball said. “It means a lot to us … we’ve worked very hard the last 10 years to establish relationships with Union and Goshen, and North Lewisburg on another issue, but we support their levy up there.”
“Our levy is just a renewal levy, so there will be no new taxes,” fire chief Bob Keene said on behalf of the Mechanicsburg fire levy. “We’ve been lucky enough to work within the budget we have. We’re able to work with Goshen, Union, the Village, and we’ve gotten new trucks, we have 24 staff, and that’s what this budget does is allows us to keep two members on 24/7 for the safety of the village and the townships. I believe we do a great job with the levy and I’m here to encourage you guys to vote for it.”
Following the forum, refreshments were provided by the Women of the Methodist Church and members of the audience had further opportunities to speak with the candidates.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304 or firstname.lastname@example.org