Tomorrow many Franklin residents will vote in the primary that will narrow down six candidates in the Franklin School Board election to four. The candidates include two incumbents - Judith Bialk and Janet Evans, and four challengers - Donald Petre, Aimee Schleuter, John Paul Thompson and David Works. In a year that's been overly political, even this primary race hasn't escaped controversy and hot discussion. Obviously, whenever there is such controversy, I enjoy covering the topic.
Let's start with my opinion on the two incumbents.
- While I respect Judith Bialk and believe she has abilities to effectively reach out to an older constituency, she has yet to do such outreach. I doubt there will be any changes to her methods if she is re-elected.
- In regard to Janet Evans she's typically been a lone NO vote on most (if not all) Board motions. While I expected her to have strong opinions, they've been more radical than I expected. Being passionate and on the side of the taxpayer is one thing. Being a thorn in the process plays into the ultra-conservative bloggers egos. Her attendance at school functions has earned her plenty of brownie points with parents, but she sends a less-than-caring message than the one presented at those events. If parents noted her votes and positions, they might see a lack of support for their children and extra-curricular activities, and enhanced facilities is not on Evans' radar. The lack of initiative to upgrade our facilities is hurting Franklin. Businesses want to locate near great schools. Franklin's school facilities are average at best. Something parents may want to note before they place their vote.
Onto the challengers...
- Donald Petre appears to have a passion to see school improvements. Petre is a union member and judging by the Recall Walker sign in his yard, at least someone in his household must be supporting that effort. This could cost the conservative vote. A future referendum that is not waving the conservative Franklin flag always seems to fail. The conservatives tend to link a liberal agenda with any referendum, and subsequently reject them. Hence is why I'd be concerned of any referendum put forth by the district with him sitting on it.
- Aimee Schleuter has received many positive remarks. The main character trait associated with her is that she can be too "rigid" in her beliefs. This could mean she could be as unreasonable as Evans or be a proponent of a competitive school district for the 21st Century. I'll dub her as a "wild card".
- John Paul Thompson is being supported by the teachers union. I don't know much about his positions at this time. It can be frustrating for voters to select a candidate when information is hard to come by.
- David Works is a former School Board member seeking re-election after being knocked out in 2011. Many attribute his loss to overly conservative bloggers stating he didn't uphold his previous platform. Works struggled to overcome this label at the polls, yet he must feel ready to enter the fray again in an attempt to overcome the previous year's major defeat. I'd say he's definitely not, since he seems to have a knack for missing candidate forums.
In summary, missing the forum may have convinced voters not to support Bialk, Petre, Thompson or Works. I stand by my comments last week that there could have been some justification for their absence. Bottom line, since I guess I enjoy wild cards, Schleuter seems to be a good candidate as one of the final four.