By Ted Slowik Daily Southtown | Dec 29, 2020 at 1:27 PM

A row of voting booths at a Chicago polling place in 2015.
A row of voting booths at a Chicago polling place in 2015. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune / Chicago Tribune)

Dozens of candidates knocked on doors during a pandemic or used other means to collect signatures to run for school board in the April 6 election.

School board members determine policy, such as whether to hold classes in person or remotely via teleconferences. They also decide how to spend revenue that typically accounts for the lion’s share of homeowners’ property tax bills.

Despite the stakes, most people do not vote in local elections. Turnout typically ranges between 10% and 25% of registered voters. Fifteen high school or unit districts serve southern Cook and eastern Will counties. Dec. 21 was the filing deadline. Petition challenges decided by an electoral board in coming weeks may cull the herd of some contenders.

In Matteson-based Rich Township High School District 227, numerous community members publicly vowed to seek revenge at the ballot box after the school board voted 4-3 in October 2019 to permanently close Rich East High School in Park Forest.

Eight candidates filed for four seats: Tiffany C. Taylor of Matteson, Andre Allen of Richton Park, Janice Preston of Olympia Fields, Mia Carter of Park Forest, Quintella Bounds of Matteson, Sharon Newman of Park Forest, Jamair C. Atkins of Country Club Hills and Shagmond Lowery of Park Forest.

Names are listed in the order in which the Cook County clerk’s office received nominating petitions.

Carter, Newman and Preston are incumbents. Preston and three other board members voted to close Rich East; Carter and Newman voted against closing. Board member Delores Woods did not file for reelection.

In Will County’s New Lenox-based Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210, the board has sought to rebuild public trust after authorities pursued fraud charges against former Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie in 2017.

Five are seeking three, four-year seats on the Lincoln-Way Board: Emily Biegel of Frankfort, Aaron Janik of Mokena, Deadra Stokes of Frankfort, Joseph M. Kosteck of Frankfort and Tania Rempert of Frankfort.

Kosteck, Janik and Stokes are incumbents. Incumbent Christopher M. Lucchetti of Mokena is unopposed for a two-year term.

In Midlothian-based Bremen High School District 228, eight filed for three seats: Mary List of Oak Forest, Larry F. Canning of Tinley Park, Evelyn M. Gleason of Midlothian, Otilla Kelly-Stokes of Country Club Hills, Marcus Douglas of Hazel Crest, Tyler Hall of Oak Forest, Deborah Stearns of Oak Forest and Joy Hudson of Country Club Hills.

Canning, Gleason and Stearns are incumbents. The board is seeking a successor to longtime Superintendent Bill Kendall, who announced in September that he would retire June 30, 2021.

Seven are seeking three seats on the Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233 Board: Annette Ripani Bannon of Homewood, Beth A. Larocca of Flossmoor, Michelle Hoereth of Flossmoor, Steven R. Anderson of Homewood, Cynthia W. Turnquest of Flossmoor, LaKesha Spight of Homewood and Jimo (J.K.) Kasali of Homewood. Anderson, Bannon and Larocca are incumbents.

Seven also filed for three seats in Chicago Heights-based Bloom Township High School District 206: Henry Drake of Chicago Heights, Karen King of Sauk Village, Anthony J. Murphy of Chicago Heights, Theresa McCoy Carpenter of Chicago Heights, John A. Pina of Chicago Heights, Renatta Lavette Frazier of Chicago Heights and Elizabeth Morales of Chicago Heights. Drake, King and Murphy are incumbents.

In Orland Park-based Consolidated High School District 230, four incumbents are uncontested: Kate Murphy-Peterson of Palos Park, Tony Serratore of Tinley Park, Melissa Gracias of Palos Park and Susan Dalton of Orland Park.

In October, Andrew High School Principal Robert J. Nolting was named successor to longtime Superintendent James Gay, who is retiring when the school year ends.

In Oak Lawn-based Community High School District 218, board members represent seven districts. Four seats are contested, each with two candidates.

In District 2, incumbent Cindy Bartczak of Blue Island is challenged by Sarah Kaliski-Roll of Blue Island. District 3 candidates are Tanjlisa M.B. Williams and Candice Cantelo, both of Blue Island. Randy Heuser, who is running for Blue Island mayor, did not seek another term.

In District 4, incumbent Thomas Kowowski of Alsip is challenged by Frank Gassmere of Crestwood. In District 7, incumbent William “Bill” Christian faces a challenge from Matthew B. “Matt” Heinlen. Both live in Oak Lawn.

Seven seek four seats in South Holland-based Thornton Township High School District 205: Ray C. Banks of Harvey, Bernadette Lawrence of Harvey, Almetta Vasser-Moody of Dolton, Stanley H. Brown of Dolton, Dennis Willis of Calumet City, Michelle Royster of South Holland and Regina Alexander of South Holland.

Banks, Lawrence and Vasser-Moody are incumbents. Leticia Cruz did not seek another term.

In Oak Lawn Community High School District 229, five are seeking four seats: Rob Loehr, Judy Ott, Edward Wolf and Robert L. “Rob” Cruz, all of Oak Lawn, and Safaa Zarzour of Bridgeview.

Loehr, Ott and Zarzour are incumbents. Board member Margaret Nugent did not file.

In Evergreen Park Community High School District 231, four incumbents are uncontested: Tom Schergen, Mary Zofkie, Tom Marsan and Laura McRae, all of Evergreen Park.

In Lansing-based Thornton Fractional High School District 215, two incumbents are among four uncontested candidates: Andrea Ballard of Calumet City, Richard C. Dust of Lansing, Marcie Wilson of Lynwood and Diana Jackson of Calumet City.

Dust and Jackson are incumbents. Board members LeeAnn Revis and Patricia Stepp did not file.

Four incumbents are unopposed for the Lemont High School District 210 Board: Pamela Driscoll, Lynn Antonopoulos, Kurt Korte and Michael J. Kardas, all of Lemont.

Three incumbents are among four candidates uncontested for seats on the Lockport Township High School District 205 Board: Lou Ann Johnson; Ann M. Lopez-Caneva, Michael Travis and Zyan Navarra. Johnson, Lopez-Caneva and Travis are incumbents. Board member Lisa Bickus did not file.

In Peotone Community Unit School District 207U, seven are seeking four seats: Dawn Love of Manhattan, John M. Maxedon Jr. of Peotone, Tara Robinson of Peotone, Tim Stoub of Peotone, Arthur George Macias of Monee, Roger Bettenhausen of Frankfort and Paul S. Douglas of Peotone.

Bettenhausen, Douglas and Robinson are incumbents. Board member Jody Thatcher did not file.

In Crete-Monee School District 201-U, three district seats are contested, each with two candidates.

In District 3, candidates are Todd C. Hall of University Park and Brenda K. Mitchell of Park Forest. In District 6, candidates are Tifanni Sterdivant and Cheryl L. Roop, both of Crete. In District 7, candidates are Nelson D. Albrecht of Crete and Elizabeth Venegas of Steger. Albrecht, Mitchell and Roop are incumbents.

Ted Slowik is a columnist for the Daily Southtown.

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