Monday, July 13, 2015

3 -- so far -- seeking 2 school board seats this fall



Originally published in ThisWeek News. See it on their website

Wednesday July 8, 2015 7:57 PM

One incumbent and two first-time candidates -- thus far -- are in the race for two seats on the Westerville Board of Education this fall.
Incumbent appointee Richard Bird and newcomers Gerrie Cotter and Greg Lawson have submitted nominating petitions to be on the Nov. 3 ballot to the Franklin County Board of Elections. Absentee voting begins Oct. 6.
Board member Dr. Carol French is not seeking a second term.
Bird, 48, though a current member of the board, will be seeking his first election. He was appointed to the board in June 2014 to complete the unexpired term of Cindy Crowe, who died after a lengthy public battle with ALS.
Bird has lived in the district for 14 years and is the global head of information security at Mettler-Toledo International.
He studied political science and Japanese at Ohio State University and in graduate school studied risk management at George Washington University.
Bird, who currently serves as the board liaison for the district's facilities and operations, points out he's not missed a meeting since joining the board 13 months ago.
"I absolutely love serving the students and community of Westerville. Declaring my intention to seek full election to my current seat will allow me to continue to focus my energy on the business of the board and the district coming into the busy period of the summer," Bird said in a statement announcing his candidacy.
Bird is the father of four, with his youngest son and daughter attending Westerville Central High School. He is a longtime member of Heritage Christian Church.
Cotter, 45, has lived in the district for 12 years. She has a 13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son who attend Westerville City Schools.
She's employed as a project manager for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and previously served as a Genoa Township trustee.
"I really care about the Westerville community, kids and the district. My experience as a trustee in Genoa Township, where I often had the opportunity to collaborate with and support the district, will be an asset to the Westerville schools community," she said in announcing her candidacy.
Cotter earned a bachelor's degree in French and international studies at West Virginia University.
She has volunteered for events at Fouse Elementary School and Blendon Middle School, the Business Advisory Council, Our Community Our Schools, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
She said she believes "the district is heading in a positive direction and is fortunate to have such dedicated teachers and staff, and there is always room for improvement, especially in bolstering certain reduced programming areas."
Greg Lawson, 37, is the Statehouse liaison and policy analyst with the Buckeye Institute and serves as a researcher with the global consulting firm Wikistrat.
He holds a bachelor's degree in communication from Ohio State.
Lawson's wife attended Westerville North High School and the couple's three children will start school in the district soon.
He said he previously served on a board for a charter school and that his background makes him uniquely suited for the school board.
"I'm interested in making sure the district performs fiscally and academically," he said. "There is always room for improvement."
French said she has enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity "to serve the taxpayers of Westerville as a school board member."
"We have worked hard to keep spending under control and hold the need for new taxes at bay," she said in an email. "The members of the board work every day to represent the voters and provide for our student's needs.
"Change is often good and I feel it is time for a couple of new people to 'step up' to this wonderful responsibility," French said.
More candidates for the two open seats on the five-member school board this fall still could surface. The deadline for candidates to submit petitions to appear on the Nov. 3 ballot is Aug. 5.