D.158 board member thinks former candidate should fill board vacancy

2012-05-06T23:40:00Z D.158 board member thinks former candidate should fill board vacancyBy Paul Czapkowicz Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 06, 2012 11:40 pm  • 

LANSING | A vacancy was created on the Lansing Elementary School District 158 board when former President Joe LaBella resigned last month.

District residents interested in serving out LaBella's term, which runs through April, were asked to submit letters of interest by May 4. Interviews are planned for Wednesday.

But not all board members think the interview process is necessary.

Member Anthony Arens said Thomas McSwiggan has earned the seat, based on April 2011 election results.

In that election, McSwiggan finished with the fourth-highest number of votes out of six candidates who ran for four-year terms. The top three were elected to the board.

"It's a gross injustice to the voters of Lansing," Arens said. "They have spoken. Tom McSwiggan came in fourth. He should be appointed."

Arens made the same claim last May when Robert Bonifazi was appointed by the board to serve out the term of John Sufie, who resigned shortly after winning an unopposed contest for a two-year term. Bonifazi, who had served previously on the board, finished sixth in the race for the three four-year terms.

Board President Robert Wood favors allowing any interested residents to apply for the current opening.

"To restrict it would be pretty short-sighted," Wood said.

Wood said the election results Arens thinks the board should recognize are more than a year old.

District 158 Superintendent Cecilia Heiberger agreed with Wood that allowing for an interview process is in the district's best interest. She said low voter turnout in the April 2011 election is one reason the board should not make an appointment based solely on those results.

McSwiggan did not agree.

"The people that were interested in voting did turn out," McSwiggan said.

McSwiggan still wants to serve and would accept the appointment if offered.

"I was born and raised here, and I care about the town," McSwiggan said. "I don't have any personal agenda in getting involved with this board."

Naming a replacement for LaBella could be just the first of many changes in store for the board, as five of the seven board member seats will be up for election next year.

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