East Chicago voters elect first School Board
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 November 6, 2012 10:12PM
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:21AM
EAST CHICAGO — Voters made history Tuesday electing a School Board comprised of nine members who will take office together Jan. 1.
The election, coupled with the race for the White House, brought voters out in large numbers Tuesday to have a say in who runs the School City of East Chicago.
Frank Rivera, an incumbent on the appointed board regime, captured the District 1 seat over Clifford H. Freiberger and Ismael Bonilla.
“The challenge we’re going to have is the learning curve, policies and procedures,” he said.
Rivera, who had served on the board for two years, hopes the newly elected members can be transitioned into their new jobs with help from the current board and the Indiana School Boards Association.
Joel Rodriguez, who served as an economic adviser for former Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, ran unopposed to win the District 2 seat. He said the new board has plenty of homework over the next couple of months.
“I think we need to educate ourselves where the budget is and understand what’s been appropriated and go from there,” he said. Rodriguez said it will be important for board members to understand the budget because they’re facing a $3 million deficit.
The District 3 seat race went down to the wire with Terance Hill edging Byron Florence by five votes in unofficial totals.
Other winners were Stacy Dixon-Winfield in District 4; former city councilman Jesse Gomez in District 5; Drake Morris in District 6; Kenny Monroe, Stephanie D. Ramos, and Mariecruz (Segura) Perez for the three at-large seats.
“The turnout was a lot better than the municipal election and I think it’s because of the School Board,” said Myrna Maldanado, city Democratic chairwoman. “So many parents are concerned about the schools.”
Tuesday’s election leaves Valparaiso as the lone Northwest Indiana community with an appointed school board.