With five seats up for grabs and the prospect of completely changing the complexion of the school board a possibility, candidates have flocked to file nominating petitions in the Lyons-Brookfield District 103 Board of Education race.
And, unlike four years ago, when there was a flurry of challenges to candidates’ petitions, the names of all 12 candidates who filed papers last month will appear on the April 7 ballot.
Ten of those 12 candidates will be running for the four 4-year terms scheduled to be up for grabs in April. In addition, two candidates have filed to run for the one unexpired 2-year term made possible when David DeLeshe resigned in 2013.
District 103 serves about 2,500 students in Lyons, Stickney, Forest View, McCook and the southeast quarter of Brookfield and operates six schools.
The candidates fall into three main camps, backed by rival factions.
Kristen Goodman and Consuelo “Connie” Esparza, both of whom were appointed in 2013 after sitting board members resigned, are running in tandem. They are backed by school board President Sharon Anderson, who along with her husband helped the two prepare and file their nominating petitions.
Anderson told the Landmark that she was lending the two a helping hand, since it was the first time either had been through an election.
“Neither one of them have ever gone through an election, and they just asked for some help in regards to how it all works,” Anderson said in an email.
Asked if she was backing any other candidates, Anderson demurred.
“As for any of the other candidates, I don’t really know most of them very well, so I can’t say anything about them or their interest in the election,” Anderson said.
However, Anderson knows at least one of the other candidates very well. Lyons resident Joanne Schaeffer, who has been a member of the school board since 1979, is the other incumbent running for re-election.
She has joined forces with Antonie “Toni” Parker, well known in Lyons as a vocal critic of Village President Christopher Getty and his father, former President Ken Getty.
A 1966 graduate of Lincoln School in Brookfield, Parker said she’s shifting her focus to District 103 after many years focusing on village politics.
“It’s the biggest part of my tax bill,” Parker said. “Our [standardized test] scores are hurting our property values; they’re hurting these communities.”
Schaeffer and Parker are running for 4-year terms along with Stickney resident Lori Schuler and Lyons resident Jacqueline MacDonnell, a neighbor of Parker’s. That slate is also backing Lyons resident Earl Johnson for the one 2-year term up for grabs.
The remaining five candidates — 4-year term candidates Michael Bennett, Coleen “Dawn” Shipbaugh, Jorge “Rene” Torres and Gregory Ramirez and 2-year term candidate Catherine “Katie” Broderick — are all Lyons residents backed by the Gettys.
“I think the school board needs fresh leadership and new board members,” said Christopher Getty, whose United Citizens Party is running unopposed in the race for three Lyons trustee seats in April.
“The schools are the lifeblood of the community and we need to put our attention on them.”
Schaeffer said the Gettys’ interest in District 103 is strictly political.
“It’s all jobs. That’s what my concern is,” said Schaeffer. “I worry about our custodians; that’s 20 jobs right there. Also all of our secretaries. They’re not union. That’s what bothers me. We have money and we have jobs.”
The Gettys’ last bid to gain control of the school board was in 2011, when they ran a full slate of candidates. After a campaign in which those candidates mainly avoided the spotlight, just one, Mitch Milenkovic, was elected.
Milenkovic has chosen not to run for re-election to the school board, instead turning his focus on running for election as a trustee in the village of Stickney.
Also choosing not to run for re-election after serving for a decade on the school board is Deanna Viti Huxhold.
Huxhold, an ally of Schaeffer, for the past year has been a thorn in the side of Anderson and the school board majority. Most recently she called for the resignation of the district’s superintendent and business manager for awarding a fire extinguisher servicing contract to the husband of district employee.
This article has been changed to correct the spelling of Antonie Parker’s name.