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13 will fight for city board seats

EDITOR"S NOTE: Beginning today, The Ironton Tribune is beginning a series of articles on the upcoming November election and the men and women vying for the posts.

Saturday, October 02, 1999

EDITOR"S NOTE: Beginning today, The Ironton Tribune is beginning a series of articles on the upcoming November election and the men and women vying for the posts. Today, we begin with the first of a two-part series on the Ironton Board of Education. The candidates in the first installment are some of the first who responded, but are presented in no particular order.

Voters might need a little more time this year before they go to the polls to decide which candidate would be the best person to represent them on the Ironton Board of Education.

Voters will choose four out of 13 possible candidates.

However, although there are 13 people – 12 registered and one write-in candidates – each of them say they would bring something different to Ironton’s public educational system.

Kathy Kratzenberg was appointed a few months ago to fill Steve Harvey’s seat after the board member resigned before the end of his term.

And Mrs. Kratzenberg said she would like to continue to hold a position on the school board.

"I have a feeling Ironton is about to come into a lot of new and positive changes," she said. "We’re coming up on the list for school funding and I think it will be a big moving time for Ironton schools. I would like to be a part of that."

Another Ironton native, and 1952 graduate of Ironton High School, Gary Neal has always wanted to be involved in the school system.

"I just want to make Ironton one of the best school systems in the State of Ohio," Neal said. "I’m interested, and I love kids."

A current board member, B.J. Hannon isn’t quite ready to give up his work to improve the city’s school system.

"My goal has always been to have the best academic and athletic programs we can," Hannon said. "And I want to continue that. I want to get the best teachers we can get. Everything is strictly for the benefit of the students."

Another current board member, Kathy McGinnis has the most experience of all the school board candidates. She’s been a board member for eight years, and she says she still has unfinished business.

"I want to take the Ironton City Schools into the new millennium," Mrs. McGinnis said. "The future looks bright. We have some wonderful things happening, and I would just like to see some of the programs I’ve helped start implemented."

Mrs. McGinnis began participating in her children’s education about 16 years ago, when she was very strong in the Parent-Teacher Association and attended almost all of the board meetings since then.

Eight years ago she took her first step toward making a difference by running for school board and she won.

"As a board member, my philosophy is that I try to answer any and all questions," Mrs. McGinnis said. "I do take the time to research and get an answer to every student’s or parent’s question."

Although most agree that Ironton City Schools are on the rise, there still are a few issues that need to be addressed and corrected if the area schoolchildren are going to be better prepared for tomorrow, said James Holt III, another candidate for school board.

"I would like to see the school board operate for everyone," Holt said. "I am both appalled and ashamed that there are no black teachers in our school system. That doesn’t benefit our kids a bit. I feel they are not preparing the kids to go out into the world. If the children leave Ironton, they are going to have to deal with blacks, Hispanics and Japanese."

Other candidates, such as Mark Near and Paul Kuehne, don’t have any specific agendas for applying to be a school board member. They just want to be involved.

"I chose to run, because I believe schools need to be focused on educating students," Near said. "I think the role of school board member is to listen to the community and make sure community values are reflected."

With three children in the Ironton school system, Kuehne said he just wants to be involved in his children’s education.

"I have no grudge against anybody," Kuehne said. "I know most of the school board members. Most of them that I know, I like. My main thing is education for the kids."

A filing error prevented Maria Oakes from being formally on the ballot, but she is requesting that area residents write her name in.

"I just know I can do a good job," Mrs. Oakes said. "I’ve been active in the schools for 13 years. I’ve been the Parent-Teacher Association president, the parent representative on America 2000, president of Kingsbury Parents for Better Schools, and I’m a band nurse also."

If elected, Mrs. Oakes said she wants to continue her work to improve the city’s educational system, but, more importantly, she wants to help the children succeed.

"I’d like to change the attitude that our children have when they leave the school," she said. "I’d like them to have a more positive approach. I’d like to give the children more credit for things they do and help their self esteem."

Not everyone will be able to get their wish of becoming an Ironton school board member, however.

There are only four positions available on the six-member board.

Others running for the office include Richard Price, Donald Lewis, Robert Pleasant Jr., Randy Taylor and Cecil Townsend.