School board candidates may be required to run under political party label – nwitimes.com

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John Doherty, left, board president at Munster Community Schools, tells the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment Tuesday that he opposes legislation that would require school board candidates to run in partisan elections.
Brandon Kroft, left, of Chesterton, a seven-year school board member at the Duneland School Corp., told the House Elections Committee Tuesday that recent attempts by national parties and interest groups to inject partisan politics in school board meetings only has led to unnecessary conflicts, worrisome threats, and occasionally violent confrontations.
Candidates for Indiana local school boards soon may be required to run for office with a political party label next to their names.
House Bill 1182, sponsored by state Rep. J.D. Prescott, R-Union City, would end the state’s longstanding practice of nonpartisan school board elections by mandating every school board candidate identify as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Prescott said attaching a party label would promote “transparency” by giving voters more information about school board candidates, who he said often are not personally well known by the voters, let alone their positions on important issues.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb delivers his 2022 State of the State address to a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly
“School boards handle one of the largest budgets with our local elected offices,” Prescott said. “When I look at Republicans or Democrats I think you can tell the difference between financial responsibility and moral character in some cases.”
The House Elections Committee heard nearly two hours of testimony unanimously opposed to Prescott’s proposal Tuesday.
The Republican-controlled panel will decide in coming weeks whether to advance the measure to the full House.
John Doherty, past board president at the School Town of Munster and a self-described conservative Republican, told the committee partisanship has no place in school board meetings.
“When my fellow school board members and I meet, we leave our party affiliation at the door,” Doherty said. “We have been elected by Democrats, independents and Republicans, but our core constituents — the students — are none of these.”
This episode of the “Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops” series takes viewers around Munster in the midst of the holiday season.
Brandon Kroft, of Chesterton, a seven-year school board member at the Duneland School Corp., said recent attempts by national parties and interest groups to inject partisan politics in school board meetings only has led to unnecessary conflicts, worrisome threats and occasionally violent confrontations.
“It’s extremely hard to recruit school board members, as well as superintendents, and I think forcing a school member to either put an R or a D in front of their name and run on that label is going to further shallow the pool,” Kroft said.
State Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond
1st Senate District
Represents: Hammond (south side), Munster, Highland, Griffith, Dyer, Schererville
Experience: State senator 1978-95, 1998-present; retired banker
Committees: Homeland Security and Transportation; Insurance and Financial Institutions; Local Government (ranking member); Veterans Affairs and the Military
State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago
2nd Senate District
Represents: Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago, Gary (west side), Griffith, Hobart, Merrillville
Experience: State senator since 2008, previously served 1994-98; attorney
Committees: Commerce and Technology; Insurance and Financial Institutions (ranking member); Judiciary (ranking member); Rules and Legislative Procedure; Tax and Fiscal Policy; Utilities (ranking member)
State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary
3rd Senate District
Represents: Gary, Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart, Merrillville, Crown Point
Experience: State senator since 2016; community relations manager
Committees: Appropriations (ranking member); Education and Career Development; Health and Provider Services; Joint Rules; Rules and Legislative Procedure
State Sen. Rodney Pol Jr., D-Chesterton
4th Senate District
Represents: Ogden Dunes, Portage, Chesterton, South Haven, Burns Harbor, Beverly Shores, Michigan City, Westville
Experience: State senator since 2021; attorney
Committees: Corrections and Criminal Law (ranking member); Environmental Affairs; Local Government; Pensions and Labor; Public Policy
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso
5th Senate District
Represents: Valparaiso, Hebron, Kouts, Jasper County
Experience: State senator since 2007; attorney
Committees: Appropriations; Ethics; Health and Provider Services (chairman); Rules and Legislative Procedure; Tax and Fiscal Policy
State Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell
6th Senate District
Represents: St. John, Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Winfield, Lowell, Newton County
Experience: State senator since 2014, state representative 2012-14; small business owner
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Local Government; Tax and Fiscal Policy
State Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores
8th Senate District
Represents: LaPorte County
Experience: State senator since 2016; consultant
Committees: Corrections and Criminal Law; Insurance and Financial Institutions; Judiciary; Local Government
State Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond
1st House District
Represents: Hammond, Whiting
Experience: State representative since 2018; retired Cook County, Ill., probation officer
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Family, Children and Human Affairs; Natural Resources
State Rep. Earl Harris Jr., D-East Chicago
2nd House District
Represents: East Chicago, Gary (west side)
Experience: State representative since 2016; small business owner
Committees: Government and Regulatory Reform; Roads and Transportation; Ways and Means
State Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary
3rd House District
Represents: Gary (downtown and east side), Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart
Experience: State representative since 2018; attorney
Committees: Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development; Courts and Criminal Code (ranking member); Government and Regulatory Reform
State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso
4th House District
Represents: Valparaiso
Experience: State representative since 2006; aviation safety consultant
Committees: Elections and Apportionment; Roads and Transportation; Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications (chairman)
State Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City
9th House District
Represents: Michigan City, Chesterton, Beverly Shores, Long Beach, Westville
Experience: State representative since 2018; retired small business owner
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Natural Resources (ranking member)
State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage
10th House District
Represents: Portage, Chesterton, Ogden Dunes, Burns Harbor, South Haven
Experience: State representative since 2008; financial solutions associate
Committees: Employment, Labor and Pensions; Roads and Transportation (ranking member); Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron
11th House District
Represents: St. John, Cedar Lake, Lowell, Schneider, Hebron, Kouts
Experience: State representative since 2014; farmer, former state environmental regulator
Committees: Agriculture and Rural Development (vice chairman); Courts and Criminal Code; Environmental Affairs
State Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster
12th House District
Represents: Munster, Hammond (south side), Highland, Griffith
Experience: State representative since 2020; small businessman
Committees: Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development; Employment, Labor and Pensions; Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary
14th House District
Represents: Gary (south side), Merrillville
Experience: State representative since 1990; education professor at Indiana University Northwest
Committees: Education (ranking member); Judiciary; Local Government
State Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville
15th House District
Represents: Dyer, Schererville, St. John, Griffith
Experience: State representative 2012-18, reelected 2020; small business owner
Committees: Environmental Affairs; Ways and Means
State Rep. Douglas Gutwein, R-Francesville
16th House District
Represents: Newton, Jasper counties
Experience: State representative since 2008; small business owner
Committees: Agriculture and Rural Development; Environmental Affairs (vice chairman); Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Julie Olthoff, R-Crown Point
19th House District
Represents: Crown Point, Merrillville, Winfield, Lakes of the Four Seasons, Hobart
Experience: State representative 2014-2018, reelected 2020; small business owner
Committees: Family, Children and Human Affairs; Public Health (vice chairwoman); Veterans Affairs and Public Safety
State Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie
20th House District
Represents: LaPorte County
Experience: State representative since 2016; small business owner
Committees: Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development; Roads and Transportation (chairman)

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John Doherty, left, board president at Munster Community Schools, tells the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment Tuesday that he opposes legislation that would require school board candidates to run in partisan elections.
Brandon Kroft, left, of Chesterton, a seven-year school board member at the Duneland School Corp., told the House Elections Committee Tuesday that recent attempts by national parties and interest groups to inject partisan politics in school board meetings only has led to unnecessary conflicts, worrisome threats, and occasionally violent confrontations.
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