The following endorsement of candidates for the District 303 school board appeared on the March 28, 2007 editorial page.
For school board in St. Charles
Itís not easy to get the public interested in government these days.
Except for the St. Charles school board.
Yes, the same group thatís caused concern in several ways over recent years did so again recently with a boundary process that split the board and enraged some residents.
Because of that, and other public disputes between board members, 10 candidates filed for three 4-year openings. Two notable board adversaries are vying for the one 2-year spot.
District 303 covers St. Charles, as well as a southern part of South Elgin and western slice of West Chicago. At least one of the board members elected must be from an unincorporated area.
Most of the candidates are political novices. But theyíre not single-issue zealots; all have ideas on what the district should do to improve.
One clear choice is Bob Lindahl, who has the experience and temperament to become an outstanding board member. He is a former teacher, principal and administrator in the district and combines that with a collaborative attitude.
We also endorse Steven Spurling. He understands tough decisions need to be made with boundaries and a referendum, but they canít be successful without working with the community. He is decisive and clear and has financial experience.
Incumbent Kathy Hewell is endorsed. Itís tempting to select a third new member, but Hewell, who staked out reasonable positions in the boundary battle, should thrive on a board thatís ó hopefully ó more harmonious. She wants more board training, openness and better planning.
Itís a strong field and tough to leave out Scott Nowling, Kristen Pozna, Jeff Blankenship and Kenneth Bertrand. All want more citizen panels, and we like Bertrandís watchdog group idea.
Also running for the 4-year seat are Joe Annett, Michael Greenfield and Carolyn Shannon. All would have much to offer the district if itís looking for community input.
Two incumbents ó president Bobbie Raehl and former president Jim Gaffney ó are vying for the 2-year spot. And both have been in the middle of public board disputes. Gaffney is endorsed.
Academic experience? Raehl has it, and thatís one reason we endorsed her four years ago. But such experience, it turns out, is not enough. Communication ó not just among board members, but with the public ó is a huge consideration as well. Raehl falls short in that area. The board has not fared well under her leadership. By any measure, the boundary process could have been done better, with more deliberation, planning and community input from the beginning.
Was it more the fault of outgoing Superintendent Barbara Erwin, as Raehl suggests? Regardless, the fate of the plan rests with the board. And a majority of the board, led by Raehl, was determined to change boundaries on all levels despite growing, and legitimate, opposition.
Gaffneyís strength is not as board president, which he was until a year ago, when he resigned that post but remained on the board. Gaffney has flaws, too; for one thing, he really needs to tone down his rhetoric. Still, we see him as a better choice to complement an overhauled board with a new superintendent. He offers financial and construction expertise that will help the board.