Five months from now there will be four new members of the Riverside-Brookfield Township High School District 208 board. All four incumbent members of the RB school board whose terms expire in May have decided not the run for re-election in April.
School board President James Marciniak announced a couple of months ago that he would not run again. More recently, longtime board members Larry Herbst and Sue Kleinmeyer and one-term board member MariAnn Leibrandt all decided not to run again.
The candidate filing period ended Monday, and seven candidates have filed to run for the four open seats.
The candidates are former school board member Laura Hruska, current Brookfield Elementary District 95 school board Vice President Tom Powers, Riverside attorney Tim Walsh, Brookfield resident John Keen, Riverside resident Garry Gryczan and North Riverside residents Lenora Giurini and Louis “Lou” Surprenant.
Herbst has been on the school board since 1999 and is stepping down after serving three terms. He was the president of the school board from 2003 to 2009.
“I’m very proud of the progress the school’s made while I’ve been on the board,” Herbst said. “It’s time for new blood. It’s time for new people to move in.”
Herbst said that he ran for third term in 2007 only because he wanted to see through the nearly $63 million renovation and expansion of RB.
Kleinmeyer, the current vice president of the RB board, has served on the District 208 school board almost as long as Herbst. She was appointed to the RB school board in August 2001 to fill a vacancy and was re-elected in 2003 and 2007. In 2007, Kleinmeyer was the leading vote getter in a field of eight.
She said she has served long enough and needs more time to focus on her job as a principal of an elementary school in Cicero.
“The demands of my job have become greater since they increased the size of my school,” Kleinmeyer said.
Kleinmeyer also said that she also wants to have more time to watch her two children play college sports. They are both athletes at University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Leibrandt is stepping down after only one term on the RB board, but served on the District 95 school board for eight years.
“It was a hard decision and a family decision,” said Leibrandt whose youngest child graduated from RB in June. I have decided to give back some time to my family and my business.”
Hruska, who works as the examinations manager for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, served on the RB board from 2005 to 2009. In 2009 she ran for re-election and finished fifth in a six-person field.
While on the board, she had a reputation as a fiscal watchdog, casting the only vote against the current contract with Riverside Brookfield Education Association, the RB teachers union, claiming that it was too costly.
“I was the one person who knew that this contract would not be good, and I was the only one who voted no,” Hruska said.
Powers, 50, is an architect and managing principal of the Chicago office of IA Interior Architects, a firm that designs corporate interior spaces. His daughter is a junior at RB and he also has a seventh-grader at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield.
“I think it’s kind of a natural progression to go from a feeder school board to a high school board,” Powers said. “I truly believe that RB is a fine school.
Walsh, 50, said he decided to run last week when only one candidate, Powers, had filed to run. Walsh is a former president of the Riverside Otters Swim Club. Two of his daughters have already graduated from RB and another daughter is a senior this year. He also has a son who is an eighth grader at Hauser Junior High in Riverside.
“We’ve got to build on the good things that have happened in the last several years, and we’re going to deal with the management of the cost and making sure we keep the school strong,” Walsh said.
Keen, a 1979 graduate of RB, is a radiologist at Stroger Hospital. He has an undergraduate degree from Stanford and an MBA from the University of California. His father, Jim Keen, served on the RB school board. Keen has a daughter who is a senior at RB, a son who is a sophomore and three more kids on the way to RB.
Keen said that he is running in association with Gryczan, Giurini and Surprenant under the motto “Keep a Great School Great.”
Petitions for those four candidates were filed just a couple of minutes prior to the deadline at 5 p.m. Monday. Accompanying three of the four candidates who filed in person were Riverside residents Jerry Buttimer and Jill Hennessy.
Hennessy delivered the petitions of Giurini, who was not there. Buttimer and Hennessy played key roles in the campaigns of current board members, Matt Sinde, Mike Welch, and Dan Moon who ran two years ago under the moniker of the SWiM team. Hennessy served as their campaign manager.
However Surprenant, a general contractor and member of the North Riverside Zoning Board of Appeals, said Monday night that he was not really part of a slate.
“Whether I’m with one group or another group it really doesn’t matter,” Surprenant said. “I guess you could say that I’m independent, and I think that’s why so many people have asked me to run. I really don’t want to play politics. I just want to do what’s right for the school.”
Buttimer and Herbst, who have been bitter opponents on RB and other issues and have long disliked each other, both appear to be supporting Surprenant.
Herbst said that he feels good about the candidates who have filed, adding that he knows and has a lot of respect for Surprenant, Walsh and Powers and is supporting them.
“I couldn’t be happier that these three individuals have made themselves available to be board members,” Herbst said Monday evening.
Surprenant said he is honored to be supported by both Buttimer and Herbst.
“I think they both understand the type of person I am,” Surprenant said. “Quite honestly, I’m flattered.”