Contentious races to play out in Lehighton, Tamaqua
Two contentious local school board races could become clearer following Tuesday’s primary election.
There are 11 people aspiring to win five four-year term nominations for seats on the Lehighton Area School District Board of Education. Ten of the 11 candidates are cross-filed and appear on both the Democratic and Republican ballots, while the 11th candidate is running only on the Democratic ticket.
The cross-filed candidates are Barbara A. Bowes, Frank Ruch, Walter “Wally” Zlomsowitch, Wayne W. Wentz, Nathan R. Foeller, Byron D. Schnell, Larry E. Stern, Thomas “Tommy” McEvilly, Richard R. Beltz and Rita L. Spinelli.
Craig G. Bowman is the candidate whose name appears on only the Democratic slate.
Ruch was tragically killed in a crash on April 15. Since he was a filed candidate, his name appears on both ballots. Should he win a nomination in either party, that party’s leadership will choose a successor to be placed on the ballot for the general election in November.
Ruch was a Mahoning Township supervisor and an active member of the community, and his family has asked voters consider casting a memorial vote for him.
The top five vote-getters on each ticket will advance to the general election ticket.
Eleven candidates are vying for five seats on Tamaqua’s school board. All have cross-filed. The candidates include incumbents Larry Wittig, Dan Schoener and Melanie Dillman. Challengers include Justin Startzel, Thomas J. Bartasavage Jr., Trina Schellhammer, Stacey Betz, Liz Pinkey, Karen Tharp, Cheryl Tennant Humes and Jessica Ivey.
The district currently has two lawsuits pending against it, one from the teacher’s union and another from a group of parents, over the implementation of a policy allowing employees to carry firearms in school.
School board members agreed in January to temporarily suspend the implementation of the controversial policy, No. 705, following the filing of the two legal challenges.
The board, however, revived the plan in April, saying appeals of the court cases could last for years, and the district is ready to move forward.