With no one on ballot for Northwestern school board, 3 write-in candidates seek votes

Northwestern Local School District voters face an unusual situation in the Nov. 7 election: two board of education seats are up but no candidates will be on their ballots.

Three write-in candidates instead are running.

Two incumbent school board members whose terms expire at the end of this year, Joe Tedeschi and Karen Elder, did not seek re-election.

“I have made a decision, after much consideration, to not seek another term on the Northwestern school board,” Tedeschi told the News-Sun.

No one filed petitions to appear on the ballot, but David E. Aills Jr., Matthew Cox and Eric Benjamin Renegar later declared with the Clark County Board of Elections as write-ins.

Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said he has not seen only write-in candidates the eight years he has been there.

“As long as I’ve been here, I haven’t seen a school race with no candidates and only write ins... We do have one write in here and one write in there, we sometimes have two write ins and one candidate, but never three write ins and no candidates,” he said.

The school board candidates spoke with the Springfield News-Sun about why they are running, some of their goals and why they should be elected.

David E. Aills Jr.

Aills is a longtime Springfield and Northwestern resident and has six kids with his wife, Joyce, with two currently in the district.

“Me and my wife are pretty active in the schools ... I feel like I want to do something to give back and help out. When no one ran for the position, I thought I have an interest there and thought I might be of some help,” he said. “I think I have a lot to offer, and I have a lot invested in the school system ... I’ll try my best to do a great job and do my best to serve the community.”

If elected, Aills said he will work to “look out for the employees, encourage the parents and encourage the students.”

“I just feel like we have great students, great teachers, great parents, and I just want to make sure the teachers are getting everything they need, being represented properly and respected for the job they do. I want to encourage the parents to get involved where they can, stand up for the employees,” he said.

Aills was a firefighter for close to 40 years, with 30 years in Springfield. He retired in 2017 after being a company officer at Station 1 for the last nearly 20 years of his career. After he retired, he continued to work full-time and is a project manager for VineBrook Homes. He graduated from high school in 1979 and earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Wright State University.

Matthew Cox

Cox, who was born and raised in Springfield and has a child in the district, said he is committed to the community and the Northwestern district.

“You got to really love your community because otherwise signing up for a role that can be challenging at times could be setting yourself up for failure,” he said. “I love my community, I love this school district. I think that’s the ultimate reason why I’m getting involved and why I’m trying to run for this office.”

If elected, Cox said he is committed to help build an atmosphere where children can thrive and staff can feel valued and proud to work at Northwestern.

“I’m just committed we keep a pulse on progress and pivot when necessary, and hold ourselves to a new level of accountability ... We need to make sure we prepare our children for the future,” he said.

Cox currently works for DealerTrack, a global entity that supports the auto industry. He earned an associate’s degree from Clark State College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Franklin University.

Eric Benjamin Renegar

Renegar has three children in the district and is committed that each of them receive the “same high-quality education.”

“I deeply value the dedication of our district’s staff and teachers. At this stage in my life, I’m well-positioned to give back and contribute meaningfully to the board,” he said. “I’ve experienced firsthand the excellence of Northwestern schools through my daughters, who are now on the cusp of graduation. I also have a young son in second grade, and I’m committed to ensuring he receives the same high-quality education as his sisters.”

If elected, Renegar’s top priorities will be to work to address the teacher shortage, enhance school safety and meet expanding educational needs.

“I bring a unique blend of understanding and resources to the table, aligning closely with the values of many parents in our community. My insights into the complexities of the American education system, bolstered by eagerness to seek out experts, equip me to make informed decisions,” he said. “I aim to fill one of the vacant seats with a focus on sustaining the board’s positive image and proactively addressing the evolving needs of both Ohio and the Northwestern school district.”

Renegar has worked the last 15 years as a professor for Sinclair Community College in the Computer Science and Information Technology department, with the last 10 being full-time faculty, and he supports teachers and high school students through College Credit Plus, Tech Prep and other initiatives. He earned a master’s degree in information technology from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Freed-Hardeman University.

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