By Keith Gushard
Two incumbent members of the PENNCREST School Board apparently have been ousted in a six-way race for the nominations for four seats on the board.
Unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary election show the board’s current president, Luigi DeFrancesco, a retired engineer from Guys Mills, and board member Harry Hicks Jr., a retired educator from Townville, being defeated in their re-election bids on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.
All six candidates cross-filed as Republicans and Democrats. Under Pennsylvania law, candidates for school board may cross-file, seeking the nomination of other parties.
With 19 of 19 precincts reporting, the unofficial vote totals for the Republican nominations were Mark Parker 869, Mark Gerow 773, Fred McDermott 759, Gerry Deane 739, DeFrancesco 626, and Hicks 597.
With 19 of 19 precincts reporting, the unofficial vote totals for the Democratic nominations were Parker 511, Deane 475, Gerow 459, McDermott 318, Hicks 287 and DeFrancesco 256.
Parker, McDermott, DeFrancesco and Hicks are incumbent board members who sought nomination in Tuesday’s election while Gerow and Deane are newcomers to the board. Parker, a utility lineman from Guys Mills, and McDermott, a radiologist from East Mead Township, both were appointees to fill vacancies on the board and sought election to full four-year terms.
“It’s interesting,” DeFrancesco said Tuesday night when contacted at home by the Tribune. DeFrancesco said he had “no reaction whatsoever” to the results. “It’s unfortunate with a low voter turnout that’s what happens,” he said.
Contacted at home, Hicks said he had no comment on the results.
Tribune calls to Gerow of Cambridge Springs, an accountant at a manufacturer, and Deane of Saegertown, a quilt vendor, late Tuesday night weren’t returned.
Tuesday’s unofficial totals don’t include absentee ballots.
The official vote count begins Friday at the Crawford County Courthouse in Meadville and the official vote count will add in absentee ballots for each candidate as well as tabulate write-ins.
If the official vote count doesn’t raise either DeFrancesco or Hicks or both into fourth place or higher on either the Republican or Democratic ballot, then only the names of candidates Parker, Gerow, McDermott and Deane will appear on each party’s ballot in the November general election.
In pre-election interviews with the Tribune, all candidates said they chose to run because of economics.
Deane said she sought a nomination because the board has no current representation from the Saegertown attendance area. Deane is a former president of Saegertown Borough Council.
Deane said she was concerned with balancing the quality of education with the amount of money available.
“So much of the budget is not discretionary money,” Deane said in the interview. “The kids are our future and we need them to be prepared to face the global economy.”
In his pre-election comments, Gerow said he knows school budgets are tight and feels he can contribute some expertise.
“I know the relationship between the board and professional staff can be improved and that will help with education,” Gerow said.
Gerow said he currently doesn’t have access to all budgetary information, but broad financial cutbacks by the board may not be best educationally for the district.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.