Endorsements: Walker, Palmer, Hineman, Rauch for Dist. 214 school board
As in so many school districts this spring, the dominant election campaign theme in the race for Northwest Suburban High School District 214 school board is COVID-19 response.
Eight candidates are vying for four available positions in the district. Three are incumbents and for nearly all the challengers, the primary impetus for running is dissatisfaction with the board's decisions regarding remote learning. Fortunately, many of the disgruntled challengers have taken the time to educate themselves on issues beyond pandemic response, for it's growing increasingly apparent that the most difficult remote-learning decisions may soon be behind us and the predominant question for voters should be, who is best suited to help the district emerge from its pandemic footing and lead for the long-term ahead?
The most immediate answers to the question are the three incumbents. Whatever the shortcomings in addressing an unprecedented crisis -- and the incumbents acknowledge there were some, both within and outside the board's control -- there is no question that the board acted with the best interests of students and the schools in mind. In the months and years ahead, experience with tough decisions and an acute vision for the future of District 214 must be prime considerations and these are found in board members Leonard "Lenny" Walker, Mark Hineman and Mildred "Millie" Palmer.
Completing his first term, Walker, a floral company executive from Wheeling, quickly has become conversant in the details of the district's financial and educational operations. Palmer, an Arlington Heights attorney, likewise shows insightful understanding of school issues and sincere interest in student accomplishment. Hineman, an engineer from Mount Prospect first elected to the board in 2009, has the leadership foundation you would expect in someone with three terms of service behind him. All three bring individual skills and perspectives to leadership of a school district that has drawn national attention for excellence and innovation.
The newcomers, all from Arlington Heights, are Elizabeth Bauer, an actuary and freelance writer; Richard Menninga, an I.T. sales professional; Andrea Rauch, a scientist at Honeywell; Tony Rosselli, a business development and sales professional; and Jacqueline Ryan, a project manager at AbbVie. All have qualities to recommend them.
Our preferences come down to Rauch and Rosselli. Among the board's strongest critics, Rosselli seems to represent the best combination of well-rounded familiarity with the district and thoughtful independence. But ultimately, it's Rauch whose leadership skills and range of knowledge about District 214 programs and goals most impresses.
District 214 is a financially sound, educationally exceptional, innovative, versatile and dynamic school system. Achieving this kind of success doesn't happen by accident. The candidates best positioned to help continue the advances beyond the impact of COVID-19 are Walker, Palmer, Hineman and Rauch. They get our endorsement.