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Posted: 11/02/11

Nine write-in candidates
crowd school board race

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      A different type of election for the Romeo Community Schools Board of Education will take place Nov. 8.
       The ballot for the board will only have one name on it, but voters will have a chance to select from a pool of nine write-in candidates.
       A total of three open positions are up for grabs - two four-year terms and a partial term that expires on Dec. 31, 2012.
       The following is a brief summary of each candidate and the office they are running for in the 2011 November election.
      
Ed Sosnoski, four-year term

       Sosnoski, the only person not running as a write-in, said his year on the board has been challenging and rewarding, and hopes to use another four years to help stabilize the district's finances.
       "I want to see the schools through the hump that we're trying to get over here," he said.
       He said aside from handling the financials, he would like to continue to work on creating better learning environments for students as well as improving facilities.
       Sosnoski said he was in support of the sinking fund, though he expressed disappointment in the list not including athletic improvements. He said he also supports the Macomb County special education enhancement millage.
       Sosnoski is an engineer in the auto industry and has been the president of the district's athletic booster club.
      
Andrew Arendoski, four-year term

       Arendoski said he has been observing the district's finances for the past year, and now that he is a homeowner in the district he said he saw a need to protect residents from the tough times in the district.
       "I saw an opportunity to have a voice and run for office," he said. "My top goals would be to balance the budget and not dip into reserve funds."
       Arendoski said he would also like to support teachers with what they feel they need for educating kids and working together with the other trustees on the school board.
       He said he doesn't support the sinking fund nor the county millage, saying he believes there is money within the budget to support those specific items.
       Arendoski has a bachelor's of science in business from University of Detroit Mercy and has not held any previous offices.
      
Wayne Conner, four-year term

       Conner said his write-in was caused by an injury preventing him from registering to be on the ballot, though he has been attending meetings to gain an understanding of the district's situation.
       "My experience would help it to be one of the best boards in Michigan," he said. "I want to ensure the public is given clear information on how we're spending our tax dollars."
       Conner added that he would like to see better communication between the board itself. He said he was in support of both the sinking fund and the county millage.
       Conner has a bachelor's degree from Oakland University in human resource developments and an MBA. He has held offices with the UAW and Southeastern Michigan Veterans Down, Inc. for Homeless Veterans.
      
Gus Demas, partial term

       Demas said when he heard of the vacancies on the board he was motivated to sign up to lend his experience to helping the district in its tough financial times.
       "There are problems a good school district is going to face, so I thought maybe I could help during this critical period," he said.
       He said his top goal would be to bring "financial sanity" to the district and to involve more stakeholders with the decision-making process. He supports the sinking fund and county millages, and was a chairperson on the Sinking Fund Advisory Committee.
       Demas was on the board for eight years, serving as president for five of them. He has a bachelor's Degree from Eastern Michigan University in biology, a masters in zoology from University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Wayne State University in science education and curriculum development.
      
Chris Giancarli, four-year term

       Giancarli said he received a lot of urging from both community and board members to become a candidate.
       "We really need good, feasible solutions that will have both parties on board," he said. "We need both sides to find compromise."
       He said aside from addressing financial challenges, he said he would like to develop a five-year plan that would bring updated and new technology to the district. He said this plan includes teachers having more engagement with students.
       He said he supports the sinking fund millage, but declined to comment on the county millage. He was a chairperson on the Sinking Fund Advisory Committee.
       Giancarli has a masters in computer science from the University of Dearborn, and has not held any previous offices. He currently has two children in the district.
      
Mark Jansen, four-year term

       Jansen said he wanted to join the board so he could provide a different point of view and use his background in dealing with large budgets to work on the district's finances.
       "We will be out of safety net funds within the next year and a half based on them not changing their spending habits enough," he said. "There is a point where unions, teachers and everybody should know there is only enough money to work with."
       Jansen said his other goal would be to help bring in additional students. He said he supports the sinking fund now that the athletic improvements were removed, but is against the county millage.
       Jansen has a degree in financial marketing from Central Michigan University, and has not held any previous offices. He has two students in the district.
      
Michael Kirtley, partial term

       Unable to gather a response due to Observer print deadline.
      
Phil Smith, four-year-term

       Smith said he wanted to run because he believes the board is ignoring the will and the wants of the people.
       "We could actually do what the community wants done," he said. "The schools are great, and we want them maintained."
       He said he wants to rein in the district spending and look outside the box for finding resources since revenue has been dropping. He said he wants to concentrate on repairing and improving facilities as well after working on the Sinking Fund Advisory Committee.
       He said he supports the sinking fund with the athletic improvements removed, but couldn't support the county millage due to its 20-year length.
       Smith said he is a stay-at-home dad that has not held any previous offices, and has two students in the district.
      
Leon Verbouw, four-year term

       Did not respond as of Observer print deadline.
      
Christopher Young, partial term

       Young, who graduated from Romeo High School last year, believes the board could use a former student's perspective, and believed running as a write-in was the perfect way to start.
       "I want to build a stronger communication with residents and students," he said. "We need to make sure we have an open mind as well."
       He said he would like to expand this by having a subcommittee that would work on gaining feedback from community members and well as staff.
       He said he didn't support the sinking fund as it stands, but does support the county millage.
       Young is attending Macomb Community College for certification in homeland security, but plans to transfer to Oakland University to major in business. He has not held any previous offices.


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