By Bob Skolnik
This spring's Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 board election got a lot more interesting on the afternoon of Dec. 26 when two more candidates filed nominating petitions shortly before the deadline.
Six candidates, two of whom possess Ivy League degrees, will be competing for three seats on the seven member board.
Three candidates will be running as a team: current school board President Matt Sinde, incumbent Mike Welch and newcomer Ed Jepson.
Those three, and veteran Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary District 95 school board member Chuck Snyder, announced their intention to run in the April 9 election nearly two months ago and filed nominating petitions on the first day of filing, Dec. 17.
But on the afternoon of Dec. 26, the last day to submit petitions, two other candidates entered the race.
First Joe Wanner, the owner of a Riverside-based real estate development company and an associated small general contracting firm, came in with his petitions and then about two hours later, just 15 minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline, Jim Landahl, the current District 95 school board president, walked into the high school to file his papers.
Landahl is the father of three sons: an RBHS graduate, a senior, and an eighth-grader who will be a freshman next year. Landahl has served on the District 95 school board for 12 years, the last six years as its president.
In 2011 he was a leader of the group Citizens United for RB (CURB), which worked to pass a tax referendum that was badly defeated at the polls. Landahl, a Brookfield resident, is self employed as a logistics consultant for supply chain management.
Landahl said he wants to end the fighting that has been pronounced at times at RBHS during the past few years.
"We've had too much conflict," Landahl said. "We need to deal with what we have to deal with and do it in a collaborative manner."
Landahl and Wanner both served on the high school's graduation requirements study committee formed last spring, but said that they have had no discussions with each other or with Snyder about running as a team.
"No, not at this time," Landahl said. "But, you know, I've had a great, solid working relationship and we've done fantastic things in District 95 working with Chuck Snyder and myself, really ground-breaking trends."
District 95's last teachers' contract, which eliminated step increases for teachers and tied raises to the consumer price index, will likely will be a model for the type of the contract the school board will try to negotiate with the RBHS teachers' union in 2013.
Wanner, 46, the son of the longtime track and cross country coach and teacher at Prospect High School, graduated from Columbia University with a degree in economics.
He went on to earn a master's degree in management from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Wanner worked for 12 years at Harris Bank, where he worked on strategic planning and acquisitions and rose to the rank of vice-president. He has three children: a daughter who is sophomore at RBHS, a daughter who is a sixth-grader at Hauser Junior High and a son who is a first-grader at Central School.
"My background is in strategic planning," said Wanner, who also is certified financial analyst. "I know numbers."
Wanner said that he is not interested in old battles and says that he will not be negative.
"I'm not running to make a statement about how things have been done with the current board or the board before that or the board before that with all the editorials and mudslinging that has gone on," Wanner said. "I believe that high schools should be a source to unify the community.
"In the olden days that's how it was. The community rallied around the school."
Welch welcomed the new candidates to the race.
"I welcome everyone to run," Welch said.