Two political newcomers are facing three incumbents as they battle for seats on the Grayslake High School District 127 board.
Incumbents Jon Cokefair, Ann Dingman and Douglas Nerge square-off against Edwin Brown and Ken Witkowski in the April 5 race. Four 4-year terms are on the ballot.
The candidates offered the following responses when asked to identify key issues in the race on a Daily Herald questionnaire and in interviews.
Brown, making his first run for elected office, is 46 and a vice president of PNC Bank. The former president, director and treasurer of the Grayslake Lions Club said his background in finance would be a plus for the board.
"(I want to) bring financial planning for both short-term and long-term needs of the district," Brown said. "Maximize the district's revenue resources in the most efficient manner that minimizes the district's tax burden."
Completing his first term on the board, Cokefair, 47, is a battalion chief for the Grayslake Fire Protection District. He said he wants to increase community involvement in the district.
"I would encourage our community to make a point to come to a board meeting to listen, speak and try to understand the process," he said. "Don't hide behind your blogs and anonymous comments, take the time to be a part of the solution."
Dingman, 49, is in administrative support at GFX International and is looking to balance academic excellence with fiscal responsibility. She is the current board president.
"Improving student achievement while maintaining a balanced school budget during an incredibly challenging economic period," she responded when asked to identify a key issue in the race.
Nerge, the 44-year-old board secretary and e-commerce marketing manager, also said proper use of finances is key to moving the district forward.
"My number-one issue is to represent the voters in the district the best I can," he said. "It is my responsibility to make sound financial and educational decisions and always have the children in mind."
Witkowski, 46, and also a vice president at PNC Bank, said he wants to join the board to press for improved student achievement.
"Currently, District 127 schools do not rank in the top 100 among Illinois schools in combined PSAE scores in math and reading," he said. "We have good schools with much to be proud of, but we can do better."