Friday, October 20, 2017 Elyria 73°


Two Lorain school board members won't run again


LORAIN — The top two Lorain school board members aren’t running for re-election.

School board President Jeanine Donaldson and Vice President Keith Lilly did not submit petitions to get on the ballot in November, according to a list of candidates from the county Board of Elections. Petitions to run in the school board and other nonpartisan races were due Thursday.

Lilly’s decision not to enter the race virtually guarantees school board critic James J. Smith, the only person who filed in that race, will take over his two-year term, which Lilly was appointed to after the death of another school board member.

Smith said he’s not taking any chances after problems with his petitions the last time he ran for school board. He said he gathered 447 signatures and needs only 125 of those to be valid to make the ballot and win the election.

For a full list of candidates, visit the Lorain County Board of Elections Web site at

“The odds are 125 are valid, but I just have this nagging thing that I’m not really going to comment until after they’re certified,” he said.

Still, Smith said Lilly and Donaldson would have faced tough races because of massive teacher layoffs and budget woes that have angered residents in the district.

“They’re going to be open to, ‘How could this happen?” Smith said.

Of the three incumbents whose seats were up for re-election, only board member Dina Ferrer is seeking to stay on the board. She will face five challengers — Paul Biber, Rhoda Lee, Tony Dimacchia, Frank Graziano and Bill Sturgill — in a race for the two remaining seats.

Donaldson said she hasn’t had children in the district since 2002 and that, more than anything else, made her decide not to run.
“I made the decision the last time I ran that this would be my last,” she said,

Dimacchia said all the school board members, including the two who aren’t up for re-election, have faced outraged voters, some of whom want them removed from the board because of the problems in the district.

“They took a lot of criticism and took a lot of heat and they’re going to continue to take a lot of heat until their terms are over,” he said. “So much went wrong so fast that so many people wanted them out of there.”

Graziano said he’s not sure who will win the race.

“It’s anybody’s game at this point,” he said.

Meanwhile in the Elyria school board race, at least one seat will be open because member Holly Brinda is barred from running for re-election because she ran against Elyria Mayor Bill Grace in the Democratic primary in May. Brinda is challenging that ruling.

In the meantime, two of her fellow school board members, Donald Boddy and Mary Kathryn Karpus, are trying to hang onto their jobs in the face of challenges from Jeffrey McCullough, Gregory Elek, Marty Martinez and Michael Routa.

Several mayors will also be fighting for their political survival.

Sheffield Lake Mayor John J. Piskura will once again face former Mayor Gary L. Mingee, who is running as a write-in candidate. Avon Lake Mayor Rob Berner will need to fend off a challenge from at-large Councilman Karl “K.C.” Zuber, in order to win another term.

In Grafton, Mayor Shari Szczepanski is facing a challenge from Rodney Campbell, while in Sheffield, Mayor Darlene Ondercin will face John Hunter at the polls.

In Kipton, which has seen its police department effectively dissolved because of resignations and suspensions, Mayor Dennis Watson is being challenged by Village Council President Bob Meilander.

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