Endorsements: Cleek, Fievet, Finfer, Sonali for Hawthorn District 73 school board
In Hawthorn Elementary District 73, six people are running for four 4-year terms on the school board.
They include Robin Cleek and Sonali Patil, who are seeking their second terms, George Fievet who was recently appointed, and Joel Finfer, Michael Murphy and Lenny Nieves.
The district faces a big challenge in that voters last year approved $48.7 million in building work, but rejected the money for operations.
While there are differences in nuance, the candidates mostly agree that the message is that they not come back anytime soon with another referendum, but first work hard to hold down costs. Still, at some point, it seems likely the board will seek more money.
Cleek, 41, and Patel, 47, both have the experience of working on the referendums and of being part of hiring a new superintendent, who is taking over July 1. They are dedicated and enthusiastic. They are excited about working with a new leader and overseeing the construction approved on their watch. Their expertise and leadership deserve the voters' support.
Finfer, 68, served on the Stevenson High School board for 12 years, ending in 2002. He was active in the referendum campaign. While he has grandchildren in the system, he feels he can bring sensitivity to generational differences and fixed incomes to the table.
With his background and experience, Finfer would be a valuable addition to the board.
Fievet, 42, who has expertise in computing, was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy in January and now is seeking election. A volunteer with Cub Scouts and youth sports whose wife is a teacher in another district, he shows an interest in balancing the need for data-driven decisions with the individual needs of students. We endorse Fievet.
Murphy, 37, among other strengths, has ideas for information technology savings. While he wasn't in our top picks, we're glad he ran.
Nieves, 48, is a union rep for the Illinois Federation of Teachers. While we don't doubt his sincerity or ability, we have reservations about having a teachers union representative on the board.