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Crowded Primary Ballot for East Penn School Board is Thinned

Two incumbents get decisive nod from both parties, while field remains competitive for others.

Board President  and Director  were virtually re-elected to the East Penn School Board Tuesday night, winning in both the Democratic and Republican primaries in unofficial returns. Incumbent Director  was nominated to the Republican ballot in the November election.

Newcomer also won a spot on the board, placing in the top five in both primaries.  

, 47, of Macungie and , 38, won Democratic nominations for director; and Stolz won the Republican nominations.

Because all of the primary winners had cross-filed as Democrats and Republicans, Ballard, Rhodes and Bacher are virtually assured spots on the next school board. Democrats Vinovskis and Higgins will face off against Republicans Donches and Stolz for two seats in the November election.

Ballard was the top vote-getter for both parties.

Stolz came under fire during the campaign from Ballard for from Superintendent Thomas Seidenberg and for Facebook posts in which Ballard said Stolz called the PSSA a “bastard organization.” Stolz said that the memo “was information that the public needed to know.” He also said he had long ago deleted the Facebook comment, which he said he posted because he was upset about false accusations he believed the union had made against him.

Ballard, 64, has been a board member for 15 years; Rhodes, 58, has been on the board for five years. Both have said that they don’t like to raise taxes but would do so if it meant not cutting vital programs.

Bacher, 44, is an engineering manager with CyOptics Inc. who lives in Lower Macungie.

Higgins lives in Lower Macungie and is president of the Lower Macungie Youth Association. Vinovskis is the pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Macungie.

Donches, 56, an Emmaus resident, is the chief librarian at Rodale Inc. 

Stolz, 23, is Executive Director of Pennsylvanians for Right to Work. He ran as part of a slate of candidates with Donches, Scott Aquila and Garrett Rhoades on a platform of controlling spending in the district and transparency.

Eleven candidates ran for five open seats in Tuesday’s primary. Directors Elaine Gannon and Terry Richwine, did not seek re-election.

The newcomers will join a board that has struggled to close a spending gap in its 2011-2012 budget, caused in large part by the loss of $2 million in state funding.

The district has considered a tax increase and discussed budget cuts to close the gap. Fears over program cuts prompted the next year and other givebacks in exchange for a contract extension, an offer that was .

Seidenberger said last week that the teachers’ concessions could amount to more than $2 million and “go a long way” toward mitigating a property tax increase. Board members have repeatedly thanked the teachers for their cooperation.

The administration plans to present a new preliminary budget at the next school board meeting on Monday.

Patch’s numbers, which are unofficial until certified by Lehigh County, are as follows.

Republicans

Charles Ballard - 1,817

Kenneth Bacher  -  1,728

Julian Stolz  - 1,672

Lynn Donches  -  1,627

Samuel Rhodes  - 1,586

Brian Higgins -  1,553

Waldemar Vinovskis  - 1,462

Scott Aquila -  1,413

Garrett Rhoads - 1,247

Jennifer Gilbert - 1,224

Democrats

Charles Ballard - 1,593

Samuel Rhodes - 1,498

Kenneth Bacher - 1,466

Brian Higgins - 1,452

Waldemar Vinovskis - 1,328

Jennifer Gilbert - 907

Lynn Donches - 872

Julian Stolz - 717

Scott Aquila - 670

John Belin - 391

Patrick Slattery May 18, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Congratulations to all of the candidates for stepping up to serve our children, families and community. With Mr. Ballard, Mr. Bacher, Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Higgins and Pastor Vinovskis on the November ballot, we have a great opportunity to have the balance of 2 current directors joined by the fresh perspectives of 3 new school board directors who have vast life experience, education and skill to help our district become even better!
manfromuncle May 18, 2011 at 05:48 PM
I certainly congratulate candidates Ballard, Bacher, Higgins, Rhodes, and Vinovskis for running a vigorous and civil campaign. It will be a pleasure for me personally and an asset to the entire East Penn community to have them serving on the Board. I urge anyobe who values competant, mature, thoughtful leadership to support their candidacies in the general election this fall.
optimist May 18, 2011 at 09:18 PM
I want to applaud the voters in the East Penn School District for their participation yesterday. Continue to seek the truth about our schools and especially our students. This community needs you again in November!
Adam May 19, 2011 at 12:22 AM
The candidates listed by manfromuncle represent a balance between what is right and necessary for the education of the students as well as keeping the tax base in mind.

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