Voters will choose from eight candidates to fill three South-Western City School Board of Education seats Nov. 3.

Voters will choose from eight candidates to fill three South-Western City School Board of Education seats Nov. 3.

The candidates are Karen Dover, Cathy Johnson, Greg McCarty, Jo Ellen Myers, Ed Palmer, Adam Slane, Rob Starrett and write-in candidate Sandi Davis.

Candidates have answered several questions posed by ThisWeek since September. The following is a summary of their responses.

Karen Dover

Dover, 47, is the chief financial officer of Crosslink Marketing Connexions, a two-year-old international software distributing company. She said she's running because she thinks she "can make a difference."

She said she will vote for Issue 47, a 7.4-mill operating levy, Nov. 3.

Employee compensation should strike a balance between employee needs and the community's ability to afford those needs, Dover said.

She has said district officials have provided a significant amount of data to voters in their attempts to communicate the need for new taxes.

She supports a pay-to-play system for the school district whether the levy passes or fails.

Past levy losses have divided the community, Dover said.

She said voters will need to "rise above their concerns" with district leadership and make a decision that is best for "our community's health and long-term well-being."

She said if the levy passes, school district officials should improve communication and academics. If it fails, she said another levy should not be sought until union contract negotiations have been completed.

Cathy Johnson

Johnson, 58, is the current school board president. A school board member for eight years, she said she's running because she wants to improve student achievement. Also, she said she likely would become the president-elect of the Ohio School Boards Association if re-elected.

She said she supports Issue 47 and is willing to work with union representatives to lower district costs so the $18.5-million generated annually from a successful levy will last four years.

District officials have thoroughly communicated their need for more taxes, Johnson said.

She does not support a pay-to-play system if Issue 47 fails.

She said passage of Issue 47 is the only way to salvage "the well-being of our children, our community and our future."

She said another levy attempt will be necessary if the Nov. 3 levy fails. If it passes, school board officials should work to improve academic performance and lobby state lawmakers for a change in school funding, she added.

Greg McCarty

McCarty, 54, is a regional customer service specialist for Giant Eagle grocery stores. He has been a South-Western school board member for 31 years and is seeking his 10th term. He said his reason for running is the same as it has been since he first became a board member -- "academic achievement."

He will vote for Issue 47 and said district officials should work with results from a voluntary performance audit due in January and union representatives to reduce costs.

Although school funding is complicated, McCarty said district officials have "clearly defined" their need for new taxes.

He does not support a pay-to-play system if the levy fails. He said a fee system to allow students to participate in extracurricular activities will not be "self-supporting."

If Issue 47 fails, McCarty said another attempt will be necessary in 2010.

If the levy passes, McCarty said he "will continue to work to increase academic performance, operational efficiencies, engagement with the community, and represent South-Western (schools) at the state level."

Jo Ellen Myers

Myers, 43, is a stay-at-home mother. She said she is running "to bring the board back to the people."

She said she is against the levy and said district employees should agree to a 2-percent pay reduction. Salary disparities between schools employees and those of other working members in the community have been the reason that levies have failed this year and last, she added.

Until salary disparities have been addressed, Myers said district officials should avoid seeking levies.

She said district officials have communicated well one aspect of their need for a new tax -- the phasing out of personal property tax as a source of revenue from the state. Other communication attempts from the district seem like "shifting sand," she said.

She said extracurricular activities in the school district should be paid for through a fund separate from that of the district's budget.

Ed Palmer

Palmer, 60, is a retired principal. For 30 years he was a South-Western teacher and administrator. He is a former president of the South-Western Administrators Association and the Ohio Capital Conference.

He said he decided to run for a school board seat to restore extracurricular activities, which he called an important aspect of academic achievement.

He supports Issue 47 and said union members this year agreed to a freeze in base pay, which shows "their concern for the welfare of our school district." The school district needs to maintain a competitive salary structure to attract quality workers, he said.

Palmer said the community could be better served if district officials used electronic communication more effectively when attempting to communicate financial needs to taxpayers. Improved communication could help in passing levies, he added.

He supports a fee structure for extracurricular activities if the levy fails. Students who are involved in school activities are more successful, he added.

If the levy fails Nov. 3, Palmer said district officials would need to seek another levy in 2010. If it passes, he said extracurricular activities and busing should be restored immediately.

Adam Slane

Slane, 21, attends Ohio State University and majors in education. He has worked as a page for the Ohio House of Representatives since 2006. He said he is running for the board to improve academic performance in the district.

He said does not support Issue 47. He said school board members must "restore the faith and trust of the public" before seeking a levy.

Slane said district officials should push for salary freezes for the near future, but added that competitive compensation is necessary to attract quality employees.

School board members "haven't seemed to show much interest in entertaining questions about their judgment," Slane said.

He said he supports a pay-to-play program if the levy fails.

If Issue 47 passes, he said officials should "craft a balanced, sustainable budget."

If it fails, cuts should affect academics as little as possible, he said.

Rob Starrett

Starrett, 63, is retired from working as an airport manager at the Fairfield County Airport. He said he is running to improve academic performance.

He said he does not support Issue 47 and said union members should agree to further wage freezes.

He said communication between district officials and community members is inadequate.

He supports a pay-to-play program if Issue 47 fails.

Voters must be able to trust district officials if they hope for a levy to pass, he added.

Starrett said busing and extracurricular activities should be restored if Issue 47 passes. If it fails, officials should not seek another, he added.

Sandi Davis

Davis, 47, is a write-in candidate Nov. 3. She works as a senior benefits analyst for Union Benefits Trust, a collectively bargained entity that oversees employee benefits for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, and five other state employee unions.

She has recently changed her mind about Issue 47. She said she will no longer vote for it.

"I don't think that the levy request accurately reflects the financial needs of the district," she said. "I'm not comfortable imposing unnecessary dollars on people who are already struggling."

She said district officials should negotiate new contracts with union representatives, share the results with the public and seek a levy if necessary.

If Issue 47 passes, Davis said schools officials should restore busing and extracurricular activities. She said they would need to find savings wherever possible. Board members "must not assume that all is well and the status quo can continue just because the levy passed," she added.

If the levy fails, the board still should reinstate extracurricular activities and continue to find savings by changing employee compensation, Davis said.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com