Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The results are in . . .

And we get to do this all over again in November!

Voting went according to form as the endorsed candidates for school board won their respective party's primary election. No candidate was able to take advantage of cross-filing and win in the other party's primary. Here are the results per the Bucks County Board of Elections:

Region 1 (Lower South):
Democratic Primary: Kirsten Garber* (692 votes)
Republican Primary: Scott Congdon* (951 votes)
(*) Did not cross-file

Region 2 (Levittown):
Democratic Primary: Melissa Kitzmiller (458 votes), Mike Morris (260)
Republican Primary: Mike Morris (473 votes), Melissa Kitzmiller (223)

Region 3 (Langhorne):
Democratic Primary: William Spitz (720 votes), Lisa Reiser (707), Irene Boyle (590), Steven Rodos** (379), William Oettinger (303)
Republican Primary: William Oettinger (587 votes), Irene Boyle (576), William Spitz (516), Lisa Reiser (465), Steven Rodos** (215)
(**) Unendorsed candidate

The most interesting race occurred in Region 3 (Langhorne) where unendorsed challenger Steve Rodos received 25% more votes in the Democratic primary than endorsed-GOP candidate William Oettinger. Considering he had no party support, financial or otherwise, Mr. Rodos made a more-than-respectable showing in the election.

Also of note in Region 3 was that Democratic challenger Lisa Reiser tallied 6 more total votes than Republican opponent, Irene Boyle, to finish with the second highest vote total in the region (behind Democratic incumbent William Spitz).

I've received several questions via email/reader comments that I thought might be worth posting here (along with my response):

Q: Are there Board members who are not running for re-election?
A: Yes, Joe Blasch (Region 1) and Frank Koziol (Region 2) are not seeking re-election. Their terms will expire in early December 2009.

Q: Can you explain exactly what is going on when candidates run in both parties' primaries?
A: In Pennsylvania, school board candidates can cross-file in order to run in both party primaries. Each party will endorse the person/people who will officially represent them in the primary, and they usually go to great lengths to notify their members who they should support in the election. When I ran 2 years ago, I was fortunate to win both the Republican and Democratic primary elections even though I was only endorsed by one party.

Q: How long is a school board term? Are the terms of the 9 board members staggered?
A: The term for a school board director is 4 years. Four (4) of the terms expire this year, and five (5) terms will expire in another two years. This pattern is repeated every two years to maintain continuity of the board.

Q: How much is a school board member compensated?
A: School board director is strictly a voluntary position with no compensation.

Q: School board is a thankless job. Why would anyone ever run for the position?
A: I'm still trying to figure that one out :-)


IrishFarm said...

I'd like to say a few choice things about a few of the candidates but will refrain from doing so knowing that William frowns upon such behavior. I hope it is ok to congratulate Mr. Rodos on his attempt. This is one of those unfortunate times when a nice guy did finish last.

sk.langhorne said...

I'm going into hiding. Campaigns always get really nasty in the November election. There is already so much political bickering between the two parties in the township over the supervisors. It will become a race to see who can send out the nastiest flyers. I assume the school board candidates will be that way also. Somebody wake me when its december.

KClarinet said...

So I understand that if, for example, Mike Morris had defeated Melissa Kitzmiller in the Democratic primary in Region 2, it would have made an election in November for that seat on the board unnecessary. What does a candidate who is backed financially by only one of the parties in the primary need to do to file as a candidate in the other party's primary? Does the other party have anything to say about it?

srodos said...

Thank you for your kind words.

News Flash said...

Just like irishfarmer I too will honor Mr. O'Connor's rules of civility. I won't use names, but I just don't get how some candidates made it through the primaries. Too many voters don't pay attention or they just vote party line or they don't show up. Maybe the problem is they keep falling for the same old political promises of I'll cut your taxes and will raise test scores. Voters should ask themselves one question. If a current board member has done nothing useful while they are on the board now, why would you believe a promise that they will do something if you re elect them? If they are capable of doing it in the first place why haven't they done it yet. Promises are easy. So is taking up space.

William O'Connor said...

KC: Filing for candidacy only requires a candidate to obtain a handful of signatures from registered voters of the party they are filing for. It costs nothing but a little time and effort, and a party cannot stop someone from cross-filing (as long as they have done so properly). A party can notify voters who they are endorsing, which usually goes a long way to helping that candidate win.

Wing Man said...

NF, taking up space on the board is not only easy, its pretty common. I always hear the same 3 or 4 members pitching ideas or asking good questions and the others sit there and react. Bad voters are like bad board members. They don't really pay attention to what is going on and they just do what their political party tells them.

Jose said...

Why didn't the LS candidates cross file?

William O'Connor said...

Don't know exactly why, Jose. There is no logical reason not to cross-file, so I assume they either overlooked the opportunity or they failed to do so properly.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment was submitted by ACS.

I find the lack of voter interest in real pocket book local politics astounding. We are a strange nation that can generate 100M votes for AI and less than 10% of registered voters in Tuesday's election. These are the people that have a very direct impact on your cost of living in Bucks County. Isn't it worth 30 mins of time to understand the candidates and vote to save hundreds and maybe thousands of tax dollars? Baffling. That being said the current board has mostly solid people and the candidates in November, with the clear exception of ONE, are qualified and will do a good job.

William O'Connor said...

Thank you ACS for obeying the rules of the road and not calling out the underqualified board candidate. Having said that, I am really curious who you are referring to. Please tell me who and what is the reasoning behind your opinion. I won't post your response, and I'll keep it just between us. Thanks!

I Must Be Living in Jersey said...

I also like Steven Rodos and admire his pro education concern but I have a slightly different take on his candidacy (don't worry Mr. O'Connor. I'll keep it nice and polite).
Steven Rodos had to know that an independent candidate had no chance of winning. He also had to know that his being in the election would likely get the support of pro education voters. If he were not in the election, those voters would probably have voted for the two endorsed candidates that are regarded as being more education oriented than their opponents. It is very possible, dare I say likely, that the two board members I indirectly refer to could have won both primaries had Steven Rodos not been on the ballot.
What I do not know is if Rodos sought the endorsement of one or both parties first, or if he was an independent candidate from the very start. If he was independent from the very start then I cannot blame him for running for school board as an independent. However if Mr. Rodos tried to get endorsed by one or both parties and was rejected, and THEN decided to run as independent, that's when I have a problem with his candidacy. My belief is that he should have stepped aside at that point and helped, or just not hurt, the two candidates who most closely reflect his concern for the students.
I know Rodos reads this blog and I hope he understands that I am not criticizing his views at all. I agree with him on many issues, and I think it was a HUGE mistake for either party not to have accepted him as a candidate (if he applied to them). But this would have been a time for him to step aside. Now we have to wait for the November election when there will be so many other distractions. Middletown voters will be turned off by the bickering between the township politicians and may lose sight of the school board election. Who knows what will happen then.
I hope you are not mad at me Mr. Rodos for what I said. You are a great person and I hope you will keep coming to the meetings and always stick up for the students like you have been.
I am also sorry for writing what must be my longest comment ever on this blog. I hate when others go on and on so I am now placing myself on Mr. O'Connors DSP list.

srodos said...

By the time of the first proposed budget of this year it was evident to me that in deeds not words education did not have the same priority as reduced taxes. I felt that both could be accomplished by minute investigation of where the District spends money. By the time the first proposed budget came out in late January with its gigantic deficit, it was clear to me that the Board members had accomplished very little to hold down needless expenses over the preceding years. I believe that in the preceding years as enrollment continued to decline so should staffing have declined. I applied to the Democratic Party for their endorsement. It seems that it was already a done deal since the other candidate and myself who both were not endorsed were on the losing side of an approximately 27-3 or 4 vote. I felt that my constituency at Flowers Mill could put the Democrats over the top on both ballots, but I also felt that in good faith I could not call myself a Republican and ask for their endorsement. In retrospect and according to my spin of the election results I was right. My final thoughts are a homage to the soon to be late and lamented eighth grade language program:" c'est la vie".
No offense taken by anyone's comments to date

srodos said...

p.s. I had previously decided to run whether or not endorsed

Newbie said...

I don't know if you are right Jersey. I voted for Rodos and maybe since he did well it will send a message to the other candidates that there are voters who care about education and not just low taxes.

I Must Be Living in Jersey said...

Newbie, whatever votes Rodos received won't change the candidates. They'll say and do what's needed to get elected then they will return to their former ways. The candidates who are just in it to lower taxes will not all of a sudden see the light of better education.

swelle said...

For anyone who cares about education the choice between the two current board members running for re-election is obvious. I hope voters pay attention to qualifications instead of voting party line.

Jose said...

how can you tell how good a candidate is? You get one piece of campaign mail that says one or two of them is better, then another mail piece says the others are better. i watch some meetings on tv but its not easy to tell which board member is better there either. there is one board member who is not running who i used to think was very good but it took me a couple years to see through their act. i think i know who i will vote for in november but im not sure if its a good choice.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment submitted by mamasaid was edited for content.

Well, let’s see—on one side you have a candidate who has been on the board already, with little to show for it. Their running mate has yet to attend a school board meeting. On the other side you have another incumbent board member who has a proven record of being education-minded, and their running mate is a PTO activist. The choice seems clear to me!!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a televised debate with all of our candidates, so we could all be informed voters, rather than just drones who walk in and pull the lever according to party affiliation? Mr. O’Connor, any suggestions on how we could get that to happen?

William O'Connor said...

MamaSaid - I had to cut down much of what you said as I don't want this to turn into a place to debate the candidates.

Regarding your question about a debate, it's a worthy idea but not likely to happen here in Neshaminy. Coincidentally I spoke to the Board Policies committee just last night about making Neshaminy TV available to school board candidates. Support for this idea was luke warm at best, and I know it will never pass the full board so I just dropped the idea for now.

If citizens wish to sponsor a candidate debate, they will need to organize that themselves much like they do at Flowers Mill prior to each election.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment submitted by sportsfan was edited for content.

I agree with MamaSaid and Jose about not knowing enough about the candidates. I also think having a TV debate or presentation is a good idea. There are many positives and I can't think of any negatives. I think part of the reason is that they are afraid to challenge one particular candidate. It's like playing golf against Tiger Woods. When you go up against the best, you get a little nervous. But you would think that the other candidates would enjoy the challenge.