Candidates step forward for school board seats

Published 1:01 pm Thursday, February 15, 2007

By Staff
NILES – Three candidates have filed to pursue two available four-year terms on the Niles Community Schools Board of Education, and two people are pursuing the pair of open seats on the board of education for Brandywine Community Schools.
Niles board president Dana Daniels, 1211 Walnut St., newly appointed board member Rick McKeel, 1915 Emerald Forest Lane, and bond steering committee member Michael Waldron, 1001 Wesaw Road, all filed with the Berrien County Clerk Tuesday to be eligible for the May 8 election.
McKeel was appointed Feb. 5 to fill the seat of departed vice president John Mattix, who left to focus solely on the approaching bond campaign. Waldron was a member of the Save Our Schools group opposing the 2006 Niles bond issue, and has also heavily participated in both bond steering committees.
Doris Schoenleber, 1550 S. 13th St., filed to pursue the one-year term through June 20, 2008, on the Brandywine board vacated by Cindy Benson and temporarily filled by Thomas Wentworth. State law mandates any board of education seat vacated prior to the term's expiration must be available at the next school board election.
The winner in May of that seat will complete Benson's original term expiring June 30, 2008. The next occupant of that seat will serve a four-year term.
Current Brandywine trustee Dennis Cooper, whose second term expires June 30, will apply to run as a write-in candidate for another four-year term after his petition format was rejected by the clerk's office.
Cooper said the top of the petition form is supposed to be filled out and dated before gathering signatures, and the bottom must be completed and dated once the last signature has been obtained. Cooper added he dated the bottom of the form Feb. 9, but the final signature on the petition was given Feb. 12.
"What I did was I dated it the day I started the petition," Cooper said. "The bottom line is I wasn't so sure about this [because] it wasn't the same way the last two times of doing it."
This is the first school board election in which paperwork must be filed with the county clerk and not at the city level.
"The process in how we are going to be conducting the election is different," said Ruth Harte, Niles city clerk. "[Candidates] can get paperwork here but they can no longer file at the local level. They have to file with the county."