Horvath, Stefanko Win Chardon Schools seats
On the night of the vote, on the sixth try, as polls closed and people went home nearby — Chardon residents elected two familiar faces, but only one new board member, as they passed the school levy.
Madelon Horvath, a retired teacher of 30 years, and Paul Stefanko, re-elected for a third term, both won four-year seats on the Chardon Schools Board of Education Tuesday.
It was no wonder, though, that what they really wanted to talk about was the passage of the levy.
“Thing I’m more excited about than my own win is that the levy passed,” said Horvath, who led the field with 3,304 votes, according to unofficial results from the Geauga County Board of Elections. “I’m hoping we can begin right now, create a community and school coming together where we realize the importance of each other. We need each other.”
Stefanko admitted he didn’t think he would be re-elected. But he was humbled, even flattered, by residents’ decision, electing him with 2,560 votes. And he was glad that no more Chardon faculty had to lose their jobs due to budget cuts.
“Most importantly, we can bring back some programs,” Stefanko said. “But only ones we can sustain for long, long periods of time.
“Always remember the voter gave us a gift. We cannot waste this money.”
Horvath’s competition nudged out longtime board member Larry Reiter, who had served since 1976 and lost his seat by 320 votes. Gregory Kernc, a first-time candidate who was a football coach in the district, received 1,479 votes.
Horvath was excited for a new opportunity in administration.
“At a different level, I can do something for the school, I’m hoping,” she said. “I want to remember to listen to people and hear what they say without thinking too fast what I’m already thinking.
“I know that’s a tall order. I’ve been around long enough to know that.”
Stefanko has lived in the district for 28 years, married a Chardon graduate and is the father of a 2012 graduate. He felt the burden of fiscal stewardship especially Tuesday night.
“When you’re on the board and you don’t have any money, your job is easy — keep the district afloat,” Stefanko said. “We cannot waste this money. Remember, the economy is not good. The voter had to look inward to pass this levy. It’s a challenge for mom and dad to keep the district running. We have to thank them in a huge way.”
Stefanko also said he was glad the levy was no longer a worry.
“Now we can focus on the strategic plan, where is this district going in the next five to six to seven years,” he said. “Just because we passed this levy doesn’t mean we should run out and go spend money.”
Reiter was focused on the levy, too.
“Marvelous,” he said. “I’m extremely happy. It was critical for the district to move forward.”
He was also magnanimous in defeat.
“I’ve been blessed over the years to have had the privilege to have an impact on our children. It was a rewarding experience,” he said. “Me leaving the board is not going to weaken the board at all. It’s a cohesive board, a solid administration and better days are ahead.
“I’m still going to be supportive — any district needs good volunteers.”
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