Bell, Leachman, Vincent take on incumbents in SWL board race
The Southwest Licking Board of Education will have at least one new member after the Nov. 5 election.
Pataskala residents Daniel Bell, Andy Leachman and John Vincent are challenging incumbents Don Huber and Roger Zeune for three seats up for election. The third seat belonged to Cindy Zaino, who resigned in July. Former board member Brad Williams was appointed in August to finish Zaino's term, but he is not eligible to run.
The challengers said they had ideas to help the district.
"I really want to get more active since we have little ones," said Bell, 34, who has served in the Air National Guard for 14 years and currently works at the Defense Logistics Agency at the Defense Supply Center Columbus.
Bell said he met his wife, Andrea, when they were undergraduates at Bowling Green State University, and they have four boys, ages 14 months to 5 years, who will be Southwest Licking students.
Bell said his goals are to be more fiscally responsible with the district's money, hire the right personnel and ensure the district is a good steward for taxpayers.
He said he has read about the district's 6.04-mill bond issue on the Nov. 5 ballot and its massive building and renovation plan.
"We need it, but there may be better ways to spend the money," Bell said. "That really spurred my interest to become more engaged."
He said he also has concerns about some shortcomings in the district's most recent state report card and wished to join the board to help make the district more academically sound.
Leachman, 52, has lived in the community for 11 years and is a rural carrier for the Pataskala Post Office.
He previously ran for the board two years ago.
Leachman said he has a daughter who is a sophomore at Watkins High School and another who is married and lives in Kentucky.
He agreed the biggest issue currently facing the board is the upcoming bond issue and the building project, which includes a new high school.
"I'm not sure the public is going to support it," Leachman said. "Do we have the money to open the school once we get it built, or will we need another levy? No one's really talked about it."
Leachman said he believes district residents think it's time for a change on the board.
"Maybe it's time to let people in there with fresh ideas," he said. "I hope voters do some soul-searching. Do we really want to go on the same path?"
Vincent, 36, has a bachelor's degree in education and is a teacher in Columbus. He has three children, two of whom attend Southwest Licking school.
He said he has three major goals if elected.
"I want kids to be able to go to their own school, including the kindergartners," Vincent said.
Next, he said, he wants to find ways for students to spend less time on buses and more time in the closest classrooms to home.
Vincent also wants improved communication from the school board to the parents.
"We can be a little more proactive," he said.
If elected, Vincent said he would encourage more parental involvement in the business of the board.
"I'd really like to see more of a partnership with the community," he said.