Cappel, Hulting, Linck, Beall, Cornwell and Lasko for Antioch District 34
Like their peers across the region, school leaders in Antioch have faced difficult choices and a divided community over the last two years as they navigated through pandemic learning, masking and COVID mitigations, and debates over age-appropriate lessons and library books.
The debates have seemed particularly heated in the northern Lake County village, where arguments over those and other culture war issues have played out not just at school board meetings, but dueling Facebook pages where the two sides have had their say -- not always in a respectful manner.
In perhaps a telling sign of the community divide, the race for six seats on the Antioch Elementary School District 34 board of education has drawn 13 candidates, among the largest fields in the suburbs. Seven are seeking one of three, four-year terms at stake April 4 election, with the remaining six running for three, two-year terms.
As we weighed which candidates to endorse, we considered not only proposals and policies, but also who is most likely to help cool the temperature of the community and bring the focus back to the task at hand, namely educating students.
Unfortunately, several candidates did not respond to Daily Herald questionnaires or invitations to a group interview.
Among the four-year candidates who did, we are most impressed with incumbents Tiffany Cappel, Mary Beth Hulting and Lori Linck.
Cappel, a board member since December 2021, is an advocate for special education students and understands the balance between meeting the needs of students and fiscal responsibility.
Hulting, board member since 2015 and the current board president, has an impressive educational background and has helped lead several district initiatives, including the ongoing work to develop a strategic plan.
Linck, a member since 2013 and the board's vice president the last six years, hopes to make District 34 among the top academic districts in Lake County, and proposals like boosting technology programs to help make it happen.
Fellow four-year candidates Scott Shaffer and Sonia Williams did not partake in an interview, but did respond to our questionnaires. Both come off as reasonable candidates with the best of intentions, but both have made comments on social media we cannot support.
Incumbent Paul Green and newcomer Christopher Hartman also are seeking four-year seats.
Among the two-year candidates, we favor newcomers Kelly Beall, Joshua Cornwell and Tamar Lasko.
Beall has a broad range of experience in educational settings, from cafeteria worker to substitute teacher, and understands the role social-emotional learning plays in student success.
Cornwell, a middle school principal in another district, would bring a strong understanding of curriculum to the panel and a collaborative approach to board decisions.
Lasko pledges to work with the community, even dissenting voices, to resolve challenges facing the district, a much-needed approach given recent discord.
The other two-year candidates are Pam Adams, Kristen Fielder and Kevin Fielder.
We endorse Cappel, Hulting and Linck for four-year terms; and Beall, Cornwell and Lasko for two-year terms.