Four seats open on Tuscarora School Board

April 26, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Six candidates, including three Tuscarora School Board incumbents, have filed for the four seats up for grabs in the May 17 Pennsylvania primary.

All six have cross-filed, meaning they are running in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for school boards and magisterial district judgeships can file in both party's primaries.

All six Tuscarora School Board candidates could end up on the ballot in the Nov. 8 general election.

The top four vote-getters in each primary will advance to the general election.

Incumbents hoping to keep their seats on the board are Jeffrey L. Spidel, the board president, Janice M. Hawbaker and Jane M. Rice.

Incumbent Steve Myers chose not to run for re-election.

The six candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Janice M. Hawbaker, 47, of 209 S. Park Ave., Mercersburg, a Republican, served on the school board from 1997 to 2001. She chose not to run in that year's primary and was appointed in December 2003 to fill out the rest of the term of Roger Price, who resigned. That term ends Dec. 31.


Hawbaker is an attorney in Chambersburg, Pa.

She said her experience on the board is an asset.

"I feel that I've been there so I have some concept about what is going on," she said.

She said voters should consider her because she is approachable and listens to both sides.

Beckie Jo Higgins, 33, of 1086 St. Thomas/Williamson Road, St. Thomas, Pa., has no party affiliation, according to Franklin County voter records.

A political newcomer, she said this is her first run for public office.

Higgins represents the Washington County Teachers Association at Northern Middle School and is a member of the association's negotiating team.

It's that experience that will make her valuable as a member of the Tuscarora School Board, she said.

"I understand the points of view and problems of both sides," she said.

She said voters should consider her because "the current school board is not responsible to the students, taxpayers and employees.

"People are ready for a change," she said.

Donnie Piper, 50, of 10576 Reeder Road, Mercersburg, a Republican, is another political neophyte.

He works as an electrical estimator for a Hagerstown electrical contractor.

He said his background in construction would be an asset on the school board.

"I have also served on the boards of the James Buchanan Athletic Booster Club, the local Little League and the board of trustees at my church," he said.

Bill Pupo, 53, of 9615 Heisey Road, Mercersburg, the only Democrat in the bunch, is making his first bid into politics.

He retired as assistant principal at James Buchanan High School.

He said being in education for 30 years would be an asset as a school board member.

Pupo said, "voters should consider me if they want to put someone in the job who knows about education."

Jane M. Rice, 44, of 5701 Hager Road, Greencastle, Pa., a Republican, is a nurse practitioner. She, too, will finish a second four-year term in December.

A lifelong resident of the district and graduate of its school system, Rice said her experience on the board makes her a good choice for a third term.

"I believe I represent what I feel the community expects of me," she said.

Jeffrey L. Spidel, 50, of 2364 Apple Way in St. Thomas, Pa., is a Republican. He finishes his second four-year term in December.

An engineer at the Manitowoc Crane Group, Shady Grove (formerly Grove Worldwide), Spidel is in his fifth year as school board president.

He said his two terms on the board qualify him to serve another term.

Spidel said voters should consider him not only because of his experience, but because "my heart is for the children of this district. I have no hidden agenda other than to make things better for Tuscarora students."

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