By Keith Gushard
VERNON TOWNSHIP —
A former elected member of the Crawford Central School Board has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the board to serve until December.
Rob Smith of Meadville was chosen unanimously Monday night at a special meeting of the school board from a field of five candidates interviewed. Smith will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of board member Kevin Maziarz and will take his seat for the May 28 board meeting.
Smith, who was out of town on business, was interviewed by the board May 9 while the other four candidates — Jack N. Walter, Herbert L. Riede, Kevin D. Petrarca and James G. Hillwig Jr. — were interviewed by the board Monday night.
Before selecting Smith, board members said the field of candidates was strong, but they wanted to go with Smith due to his prior service on the school board.
“It will go smooth for us (because of his experience),” Mitch Roe, board member, said of appointing Smith to the position.
Jan VanTuil, board president, said she hoped that those who interviewed would express interest in seeing the nomination for the upcoming two-year term on the board.
Smith will serve until the winner of the two-year term in the November election is sworn in during the first week of December.
Because Maziarz resigned after the deadline for submitting nominating petitions for slots on today’s primary ballot, his seat will not be included in today’s primary election. After the primary, however, the Republican and Democratic parties each will select a name to be placed on the November ballot.
School board candidates are allowed to cross-file, which gives them an opportunity to be listed on more than one party line on the November ballot.
Smith has extensive experience with the school board, having served eight years on the board, two four-year terms; and also had served as school board president.
“It’s not a big learning curve for me to jump in,” Smith said in his interview May 9.
Smith, who serves on the CAT committee formed to find a viable solution to fiscal issues currently facing the Meadville Area Recreation Complex, said he also wants to help out with the recreation complex and sees serving on the school board as “a good way to straddle both.”
According to Smith, the current situation with the rec complex is one of the reasons why he decided to apply for the school board vacancy.
Smith said the greatest challenge facing the district is the whole budget, including union contracts and state pensions.
“You have to come up with a whole different approach,” Smith said, noting the board is “still faced with the same issues it faced years ago, but the screws are even tighter.”
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tribune reporter Mary Spicer contributed to this report.