The Lancaster School Board race once again has the makings of a feisty showdown in which majority control of the board is at stake.
Already, the race is shaping up to be a closely watched one, with five candidates vying for two seats.
Four newcomers are running, as well as one incumbent, for the seats currently held by William Gallagher and board veteran Kenneth Graber. The seats both carry three-year terms.
Once again, the Redskins mascot movement is a common thread – even if not yet been publicly acknowledged in the race. Some of the candidates are supporters of the old mascot and a few are viewed as pro-administration.
Graber, a 12-year board veteran and former board president, is not seeking re-election. Currently the town prosecutor, Graber at times found himself in the center of a community firestorm over the manner in which the district decided last year to drop its Redskins mascot in favor of a less offensive one.
Gallagher is running for a second term. The rest of the candidates’ field consists of political newcomers, including parent Suzanne Metz, whose eldest son, James Metz, died in the fall of 2014 in a small plane collision locally. The other candidates are Dr. Kristi Perillo-Okeke, Brian Osika and MaryJo Schaefer.
The current school board has a 5-2 majority, with the minority bloc comprised of Brenda Christopher and Kelly Depczynski. The two women were both elected last year and have represented the pro-Redskins push.
They both won their seats in a hot race, unseating the two incumbents running for re-election last year.
It all boiled down to the mascot controversy, which dominated the campaign.
The Redskins backers had vowed at the time – and still do periodically at board meetings – to unseat other board members in a push to gain control of the School Board.
Voting on the budget proposal and the board candidates is May 17.