School board write-in candidates surface through Facebook

With the recent interest surrounding the Southmoreland School District’s School Board, there has been an influx of candidates that are willing to participate in the district politics.

In addition to the five candidates who will be listed on the ballot on May 21, there are also an additional five write in candidates..

This equates to ten total candidates running for the 5 open school board positions.

The write-ins that will not be listed on the ballot are “running independently with the common goal of bettering our students education,” according to an informational Facebook post by candidate Kristy Smith.

The Facebook post lists four of the five nominees that will not appear on the ballot. They are Kristy Smith, Jamie Sechler, Michelle Williams and Raymond Bann. In addition to those in the Facebook post, Austin Hodge, a senior at Southmoreland, will also be running as a write in candidate.

Kristy Smith, a 1998 Southmoreland High School Graduate and current employee at the Scottdale Library,  has served as the president of Southmoreland’s PTA consecutively every year since the 2013-14 school year, according to the Facebook post.

“I have organized and run community outreach events such as the Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and the Pasta for Protection Spaghetti Dinner,” according to Smith’s post.

“Through these opportunities I have created relationships with community members, businesses, teachers, staff and fellow parents,”  Williams said in her post..

Jamie Sechler is a 2004 Southmoreland graduate. She has two children in the district and volunteers in the district’s buildings.

“I want to create an environment of education and bonding with the staff for future children in the district.” said Sechler through the Facebook post.

Michelle Williams, a Neonatal ICU nurse who advocates for patients and their families. She has been a resident of Scottdale since 2011 and has a child in the Autistic Support Program in the Primary Center.

Williams said she wants to “establish a long term goal for the district that will support the educational needs of all children.”

She and her husband Jim are very active in the community and are very outspoken when it comes to cutting important activities and programs within the district, she said via Facebook.

The two even run their own Facebook group dedicated to being outspoken in regards to the district and the town called “Community Action of Scottdale.”

Raymond Bann, who has a degree in “business management” and claims to have experience with high volume budgets, also announced his candidacy through Facebook,

“This is a key advantage I can provide,” said Bann. “With three of my own children in the district, I feel that I will not be so quick to offer up (budget)cuts that will affect their education.

“My wife is one of the paraprofessionals who lost her job,” Bann continued. “I sympathize with those in the district, but I can think rationally when it comes to managing the budget.”

Austin Hodge is a senior at Southmoreland Senior High School and will be attending the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in the fall. He also interned at The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County working with nonprofit community organizations during the summer of 2018.

Hodge will also be running as an independent candidate for his potential school board position.

“I am a firm believer in compromise; I am socially liberal and responsible with a budget,” said Hodge. “After making several phone calls, I decided to skip the primary process, instead I will gather the 80 signatures needed to get my name on the November ballot as an Independent.”

The primary election will be held on May 21. The general election for the board will be held November 5.

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