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Election 2016: Three Campbell Co. board races contested, including one involving former judge who favors school vouchers; teacher pay also an issue...

Community Press & Recorder, Fort Mitchell, Nov. 3, 2016

Campbell school board’s makeup up for grabs
by Chris Mayhew

ALEXANDRIA – A majority three of five seats on Campbell County Schools Board of Education are contested this Election Day Nov. 8.

Incumbent office-holders in District 3 and District 5 each have a challenger. A vacancy in the District 2 covering areas including Cold Spring and Highland Heights created by Gary Combs’ resignation led to tw0 newcomers to file as candidates. School board members are elected to four-year terms. District 1 and 4 seats’ terms will be on 2018’s election ballot.

Campbell County Schools has nearly 5,000 students and 700 employees. Staff and teacher salaries comprise about 70 percent of the district’s costs.

District 2

District 2 represents most areas of Cold Spring, Crestview and Highland Heights.

First-time candidate Lindsey R. Long of Cold Spring did not respond to requests for interviews.

School district parent Tina Kammerer, 37, of Cold Spring, said she has experience in legal and financial jobs on budgetary decisions. Kammerer, 37, has been a paralegal for 15 years and will complete an associate degree in human services from Gateway Community and Technical College in May 2017.

Kammerer is a member of the Cline Elementary Parent Teacher Organization and chairwoman of Family Science Night. She is an Adopt the Class volunteer. Kammerer said her goal is to put students first along with creating an atmosphere where open communication from parents, staff and community members is welcomed.

“Budgetary priorities should focus on maintaining safe facilities for our students, continually updating our technology throughout the district for students,” Kammerer said. “And making sure our salaries are competitive with surrounding districts for classified staff much like the certified staff.”

District 3

District 3 represents areas of southeastern Campbell County along the Ohio River and in Melbourne from I-275 to Carthage Road on the AA Highway.

Incumbent Kimber Fender of Melbourne is being challenged by Noah Heim of Alexandria.

Fender is seeking a second term. She is director of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Fender, 56, has served as the library’s director since 1999 and has a master’s degree of library science from the University of Kentucky. She serves on multiple boards including the Success by Six Regional Leadership Council, Southwest Ohio Regional Workforce Innovation Board, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. She leads Girl Scout Troop 707 of Melbourne and Silver Grove.

Heim, 34, is owner of NJH Innovations. The Melbourne-based company specializes in carpentry, concrete, masonry and maintenance. Heim is a graduate of Bishop Brossart High School where he was student government president in 2011. Heim said he attended some college and trade school at Northern Kentucky University and Cincinnati State Community and Technical College. He is a Watch Dog Dad program volunteer at Campbell County Schools, a youth soccer coach and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults sponsor at St. Joseph Parish Cold Spring. Heim has been a volunteer at Holly Hill Children’s Services.

Heim and Fender both say teacher salaries are important.

“We need our county to be the school system that dedicated/qualified personnel want as a forever home instead of using our programs to build their resume to get a job with better pay, benefits, and resources,” Heim said.

Fender said her budget priority is excellent teachers first and up-to-date technology and classroom materials.

“If tough choices on spending have to be made, I will always look for the options that will have the least impact on our students,” Fender said. “During my tenure on the board we have been able to meet these needs while maintaining one of the lowest tax rates in Northern Kentucky (among school districts).”

Heim said his budget priorities start with ensuring children have resources needed to be equal or exceed other U.S. children.

“We need to invest in our computer programs, trade programs, technical programs, agricultural programs and vocational programs,” Heim said.

District 5

District 5 represents southernmost Campbell County including south of Carthage Road on the AA Highway and south of Losey Road on U.S. 27 and everything south of Rifle Range Road including Claryville, Grants Lick and California.

Incumbent Rich Mason of California is challenged by Timothy Nolan of California

Mason, 64, retired from 27 years teaching in Campbell County Schools, has been a school board member since 2005. Mason has a bachelor’s degree in art education from Eastern Kentucky University and a bachelor’s in photography from Northern Kentucky University. He is a member of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Alexandria and former board member of Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Nolan, 69, was a Campbell County juvenile court judge from 1978 to 1986 and is retired as a private practice attorney. Nolan was a former city attorney for Newport and a former Northern Kentucky Legal Aid Society director. Nolan is a graduate of Salmon P. Chase College of Law and has bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and geology from Thomas More College. Nolan is Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in Campbell County and a Northern Kentucky Tea Party member.

Nolan advocates eliminating property tax revenue for schools gradually. “We can no longer afford to fund the public schools on the back of the homeowner,” Nolan said.

Naming schools and other “innovative thinking” needs to happen to come up with sources of revenue with the business community, Nolan said.

Eliminating local property tax revenue does not make sense while state funds to Campbell County decrease every year, Mason said. “We have the second-lowest tax rate of school districts in Northern Kentucky,” Mason said.

Nolan supports giving families school choice vouchers to spend elsewhere as advocated by Gov. Matt Bevin. Nolan said his top budget priority is raising teacher salaries.

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