log in to manage your profile and account
- Create your account
- Receive up-to-date newsletters
- Set up text alerts
Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 1:05 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 1:05 PM
— There are four candidates running for three seats on the Kettering School Board.
Jim Ambrose and Julie Gilmore are running for re-election to the board against challengers Edward Breen and Darren Cooper.
We asked all four candidates what they would do if elected. Here’s some of their answers:
Q: What are the 3 biggest challenges facing the school district? How would you deal with them?
Jim Ambrose: School districts across Ohio are dealing with the continuing problem of funding public schools and balancing the budget in light of dwindling State funding assistance. Both the state and federal government have limited sources of funding over the past 5 years or so in such a fashion that districts are compelled to do more with less financial support.
I, as a present board member, have seen first-hand how difficult it is to initiate some programs while de-emphasizing others. There are no easy answers, only challenges to be confronted and we are doing well at that by implementing creative and unique funding/levy efforts. Addressing the educational needs of our children in a forever changing technological and socio-economic landscape has been a high priority of this board. The dynamics of Kettering families have changed over the last several years, so therefore our teachers and administrators are confronted with addressing those changes in order to assure a solid educational basis for those students.
These goals are being met with collaboration and planning. Measuring student success and teacher effectiveness on an annual changing “State scale” is akin to hitting a moving target. School boards are being challenged to predict what next will be required by the State of Ohio almost on a yearly basis. This causes much stress and uncertainty with students, staff and administrators. The board must provide the tools and training to assist our teachers and administrators.
Edward F. Breen: The first is funding for future needs in a fluctuating economy. The state legislature is giving less money to school districts. The school district therefore must come up with alternate ways to maintain the high level of education that the city has become known for. The second is to keep our students safe from the encroaching violence and danger that prevails in our society today. The third is keeping the educational experience up to date and in sync with modern technology and cultural changes. I will work with the board to overcome any of the problems and challenges that the district faces.
Darren Cooper: After 30 years of volunteer service to various school districts, I have learned about the dangers of the distances between Kettering, Columbus and Washington. Governmental mandates make for bad government, not good education policy. Kettering citizens should decide what is best for Kettering students, not some Washington bureaucrat! We must be able to meet the current and future fiscal challenges in running a quality school district. Maybe the most important challenge of all in Kettering is to produce good students and good citizens.
Julie Ann Gilmore: Working to maintain continuous voter support is essential. As a board member I push for a varied and challenging curriculum that meets all student needs in a fiscally responsible manner. We must be aware of changing socio/economic conditions within our student body. Dealing with changing issues is a challenge, but we have set up support groups (Partners for Healthy Youth, Back-Pack Program, Special Counselor knowledgeable about the many county programs, working closely with the City in establishing summer and after-school programs and activities) Assessing, identifying and selecting locations of facilities needed to provide all-day kindergarten and expanded Career Tech programs for the district. We are currently involved in a Strategic Plan process for the district in which I am directly involved.
Q: What makes you qualified to be on the school board and gives you an advantage over other candidates?
Jim Ambrose: I have been on the Kettering School Board since 2012, serving on several standing committees including the Insurance Committee, the Athletic Board of Control, the Safety Committee, and the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. Each committee brings with it a unique understanding of core issues and the need to “think outside the box.” My experience as a trial lawyer for more than 4 decades representing people who have been or will be directly impacted by the effectiveness of their education, and in particular reading, makes me qualified and passionate about education. The difference between a “good citizen” and one not so good, is quite often the degree of educational success and achievement one obtained. Those who can read and comprehend are far more likely to perform well in society than those who do not. We, as a board, have a duty and a reasonable expectation to provide a free, effective, and relevant education to every child in this district. It is my desire to continue to serve our taxpayers and make a difference in the lives of our children.
Edward F. Breen: After teaching 23 plus years I want to stay in the education community. I understand what it means to be a teacher in this changing educational climate and will represent their viewpoints. I enjoy working with students and their families. I also will be their voice on the school board. With my strong political background I can help facilitate issues and values and bring city and school together. I have a strong desire to maintain our current excellence in education status and to strive for continued excellence in the future.
Darren Cooper: My strong background in finance provides an advantage in dealing with budgets and other fiscal matters. My financial planning practice had nearly 1,000 state teachers and administrators as clients. Over the years, I listened to them carefully and I learned a lot. This gives me a great advantage in understanding the needs of the personnel in our district, as well as the needs of our students.
Julie Ann Gilmore: In my role as a current Kettering School board member, as an experienced Kettering classroom teacher, and as a volunteer in the Kettering community, I have contributed to the improvement of educational opportunities for all Kettering students. It is my hope to be able to continue making a difference.
Q: What is your top priority if elected?
Jim Ambrose: My top priority is to continue to work toward providing an excellent school district for our children. Over these past 5 years, I probably have learned more about public education demands than I ever thought possible. I believe I am making a difference in our district and have grown to not only appreciate our employees and their vision and passion, but also the mechanics of growing, developing, and nurturing a truly excellent school district. We are fortunate to have teachers, administrators, and staff who collectively care about our district’s children and the community as a whole. I believe I have more to lend to our schools and look forward to serving again. We need, now more than ever, individuals who truly care about what is best for our educational system and what action needs to be taken to implement this goal. Presently, our board’s enactment of a long range strategic plan is the most prudent and logical approach to operate an effective and dynamic school district. This method involves people/citizens from all walks of life willing to come together in a collaborative spirit to address challenges confronting our educational system. Their collective experiences and wisdom broadens the choices and approaches that will be utilized over the next 5 years or so.
Edward F. Breen: School board members have needed to become more involved and familiar with the community and its changing needs. With the evolving dynamic of our city’s population and the rift in some of our student’s family support system, elected officials must be more compassionate and open minded, as they deal with issues that were not common in the past. Problems such as cyberbullying, drugs, and guns are a part of our school district and school board members must become more aware of these problems and come up with methods and solutions that will keep these types of behaviors out of our schools.
Darren Cooper: Our top priority in Kettering Schools is producing good students and good citizens. This includes preparation for the work force, as well as for college.
Julie Ann Gilmore: My top priority has always been involvement in curriculum committee work, and knowledge of the school district by attending many functions at all schools. With this in mind, my priority will be to continue to make a difference in the educational opportunities of all our students.
Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 5:22 PM
Updated: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 6:06 PM
DAYTON — One candidate for judge won’t make the May 8 primary ballot in Montgomery County after the board of elections on Tuesday certified nominating petitions submitted by candidates.
Democrat Alan D. Gabel of Dayton submitted nominating petitions with the wrong commencement date for the Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge-General Division position he sought, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the board.
Failing to put the correct date on the petition is considered a “fatal error” because each common pleas judge position has a specific start date and the correct one must be listed on nominating petitions signed by registered voters, Harsman said..
That means there will be no primary race for the remaining Democrat, Montgomery County Juvenile Court Magistrate Gerald Parker of Centerville, who will face Judge Erik R. Blaine, a Republican, in the November 6 General Election.
Gabel said on Friday that he will fight the decision, first by asking the local board to reconsider and then by appealing in court. He said it was clear which judgeship he was running for and that his petitions should have been accepted even though they had the wrong date.
All other candidates were certified except some seeking political party state central committee spots.
County voters will see contested primary races for U.S. Congress and the Ohio House.
Boards of election in Ohio must certify petitions for the May primary election by Feb. 19.
Other stories by Lynn Hulsey
Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 11:04 AM
SPRINGBORO — The Springboro City Council authorized the city manager to pay $190,000 for 5.8 acres of residential property on Lytle-Five Points Road and shift $200,000 in city funds to pay for the land.
The votes during Thursday’s council meeting came on two legislative items added to the agenda and approved on first readings.
Supporters say the new park would help serve residents in an area where most of the city’s growth has happened.
The land is at 525 W. Lytle-Five Points Road, at the southwest corner of Lytle-Five Points and Crosley Road, in Clearcreek Twp.
City Manager Chris Pozzuto said the seller was Gary Gibson. Property tax records indicate the owners, Gibson and his wife, live nearby on Crosley Road.
The land is valued at $76,270 by the Warren County Auditor’s Office. A home on the property has been removed and a sign indicated it was still up for sale on Friday.
During Thursday’s council work session before the formal meeting, Councilwoman Janie Ridd asked what would happen if the Clearcreek Twp. Board of Trustees decided not to collaborate with the city on the park.
“We have a lot of options,” Pozzuto said, including leaving the land as green space or reselling it.
Previous discussion of the land purchase was in executive session.
On Thursday, the council adjourned into another executive session before returning to approve the purchase during an open meeting.
“While the city has over 400 acres of park land / public open space, most of it lies in the west and southwest parts of the city. There aren’t any public parks in the northeast area of the city, where most of the residential growth has been over the past 10-15 years,” Pozzuto said in a email this morning.
Before the votes, Pozzuto indicated the land could be developed as a park or left as green space.
With Councilman Jim Chmiel absent, the vote on each item was 6-0.
“This will allow the city to develop a park close to many of the newer neighborhoods that have been developed recently. The hope is to create a passive park that would contain open space, picnic shelter(s), playground(s), a small paved walking trail, etc.,” Pozzuto added Friday.
The city’s North Park is 2.4 miles away, across Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro.
The property sale price is $190,000, with $10,000 for a title search and other work done in anticipation of the sale, according to Pozzuto.
Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 12:47 PM
HAMILTON — Some people, when they’re sworn in to a new city government position, bring a few family members with them.
When new Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer was sworn in on Wednesday, he brought a few … and a few more.
They all gathered at the front of Hamilton City Council Chambers for the swearing-in ceremony. There was even one from New York, and Mercer’s mother-in-law, Treva Wyatt, who herself worked 31 years in the city’s tax department.
After the new chief was sworn in, Wyatt announced that she was the one who set him on the path of firefighting for Hamilton 29 years ago.
“Because of me, he is a fireman,” she said. After he married her daughter, “I said, ‘Here’s your application.’ I got it when personnel brought it to me. ‘Fill this out.’”
“We’re lucky and happy to have you as our fire chief,” Mayor Pat Moeller told him. “He’s obviously a family guy.”
The graduate of Badin High School and the University of Cincinnati “knows a lot about technology,” Moeller said. “I think he’s going to advance our fire and (emergency services) in the technology area…. He’s also very responsive to my very stupid telephone questions.”
Mercer displayed his wit during the ceremony. When Moeller asked if any family members wanted to say something, Mercer quipped: “There are a few that probably we want to not.”
Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 2:48 PM
WASHINGTON — During the 2016 election, the National Rifle Association and its donors gave Sen. Rob Portman’s campaign $9,900 — a drop in the bucket of the $25 million Portman raised and an argument against the notion that the gun rights group had “bought” the support of the state’s junior senator.
But three other numbers are also worth considering: $242,708; $1.55 million and $3.06 million.
The first represents the amount that the NRA spent on independent expenditures such as ads supporting Portman in 2016. The second represents the amount spent opposing Democrat Ted Strickland, who Portman defeated in 2016.
The third is what the organization has spent on Portman since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The oft–repeated refrain from gun control advocates after mass shootings is that gun rights groups used political donations in order to influence lawmakers to oppose gun control measures.
But it’s a little more complicated than that. Instead, say those who monitor the NRA and other gun rights groups, the goal is to make sure that the seats are never held by anyone who might support new restrictions in the first place.
Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, said “it’s mostly hyperbole that campaign contributions can directly buy votes in Congress.”
Instead, he said, the issue falls on strictly ideological grounds: Republicans rarely stray from the party’s stance of opposing new gun restrictions while Democrats — once far more divided on the issue – have dug in on the notion of additional restrictions.
“The debate is on clear party and ideological lines,” he said.
And while Democrats have become more vocal on the issue, it’s episodic. No one is shutting down the government over gun control.
“It’s not like it’s the number one issue in the Democratic Party,” he said.
» MUST-READ COVERAGE: Loaded guns showing up in younger hands at area schools
While money may not change hearts and minds, it does, however, help win seats. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks money in politics, gun rights groups spent some $54 million in outside spending on the 2016 elections. Gun control groups, by contrast, spent about $3 million.
Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California Los Angeles and the author of the book “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” said while “money helps,” it’s how that money is spent that matters.
“The NRA is strong today not simply because it doles out independent expenditures,” he said. “The NRA is strong today because voters listen to the NRA.”
He also dismisses the frequent notion that pro–gun rights lawmakers vote that way solely because of campaign contributions.
“If you think elected officials are for sale to the highest bidder, then Michael Bloomberg (who founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group) should just spend more than the NRA does on the exact same candidates,” he said. “I would assure you that all the Republican candidates who got a huge contribution from Michael Bloomberg are not going to change their positions on guns…the NRA’s power comes from the fact that they can swing voters on Election Day and politicians know that.”
While polls taken as late as November 2017 indicate that 94 percent of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers, for example, Winkler said, the gun rights advocates often have more power because they are more vocal.
“In a democracy, a mobilized and vocal minority can often win over a diffuse majority,” he said. “And that’s how it is on gun control. A lot of people support federal gun control laws but are not single issue pro-gun control voters, whereas people are often single-issue pro-gun voters.”
Asked about NRA contributions to her boss, Portman spokeswoman Emily Benavides said Portman supports Second Amendment rights but believes in strengthening the national background check system and working to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
“Rob’s priority is doing what’s right for the people of the Ohio and that’s what guides his legislative decisions in Washington,” she said.
She called the most recent mass shooting at a Florida high school — which killed at least 17 — “an unspeakable tragedy.”
“Senator Portman and his wife, Jane, send their prayers to the victims, their families, and the entire school community,” she said.