School board vacancy draws interested candidates

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 16, 2013

GROSSE POINTES — The Grosse Pointe Public School Board didn’t have to worry about not drawing enough applicants for the vacancy left by Board Treasurer Brendan Walsh’s resignation.

“I’m pleased to announce that we have 22 individuals … applying for this position,” board President Joan Dindoffer said. “We are delighted to have such intense interest in our school board.”

Candidates stepped up from both the Grosse Pointes and the Harper Woods sections of the district boundaries. They had until April 12 to submit their application materials to the district.

One of those candidates is Harper Woods Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl Costantino.

“I had quite a few people who asked me to submit my application,” she said. “I feel that we need some representation from Harper Woods and that we need more active parent volunteers on the board.”

Costantino said she has been thinking about running for the school board for some time. She felt she needed to stay with Harper Woods City Council while they were tackling some tough financial and other issues. Now that things have started to turn around for Harper Woods, she feels more comfortable with the possibility of taking on a different role in serving the community.

“We’re very much on the upswing,” she said of Harper Woods.

Costantino said she believes she can represent the parents.

The other candidates are Derek Adams, Allison Baker, William Broman, Ande Chapman, Kim Clexton, John Kendall Conn, Christopher Cornwall, John Gillooly, Anne Marie Harris, Robin Ann Hartnett, James Hill, Norma Huizar, Diane Karabetsos, Peter Kotula, Jennifer Leigh Neumann, William Roche, William Shield, Thomas Stevenson, Brian Clark Summerfield, Chace Wakefield and Sandra Lynn Yarema.

The process started when Walsh announced his resignation March 28, which was effective immediately. He cited new professional responsibilities as the reason for his decision to leave the board after several years serving the district.

The new board member’s term will end Dec. 31, 2014.

The selection process will include a candidate-forum-style question session April 23. The candidates will be split into groups to participate in one of three 90-minute sessions, starting at 6 p.m. at Grosse Pointe North High School.

The Board of Education will ask questions of the candidates during the forum.

The Grosse Pointe League of Women Voters, which has a great deal of experience with this style of forum, since they host them prior to elections, has agreed to facilitate the sessions, Dindoffer said.

“This method has been used in the past,” she said.

“The public is welcome to attend … and observe those interviews,” Dindoffer said.

Following the candidate forum, the board will meet again April 24 to choose a new board member.