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Candidates lining up for school board races

By Dermot Connolly

Quite a few new names are included among the candidates planning to run for seats on local high school boards of education in the April 2 election.

Candidates’ nominating petitions had to be filed by this past Monday, Dec. 17.

In District 218, which includes Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Shepard High School in Palos Heights, and Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, there is competition for the three seats up for election. Johnny Holmes, the former Robbins police chief and longest-serving District 218 board member, has decided to retire after 16 years and not seek a fifth term. Newcomers Sheila Wilson-Collier and Jacqueline R. Sharp are vying for the District 1 seat that he is vacating.

Carol A. Kats, of Worth, running for a second term in the 5thDistrict, is being challenged by Maureen L. Richel, of Palos Heights. And in the 6thDistrict, incumbent Robert “Bob” Stokas will be running against fellow Oak Lawn resident Tricia O’Sullivan.

In the Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 race, incumbent Timothy Burke is running along with Mark J. Stanislawek and Siobhan B. Forde for the three available seats.

The three candidates running for seats on the Evergreen High School District 231 Board are all incumbents, including current vice president Larry Symanski, and members Maryann Kutchke and Christopher Brett.

Two newcomers are among the three running on the 230 United slate for seats on the District 230 Board, which oversees Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Stagg in Palos Hills, and Andrew in Tinley Park.

Current District 230 Board President Richard Nogal and board member Denis Ryan are not seeking re-election. Nogal was first elected to the District 230 School Board in 2011 on the original 230 United slate. He is going out on a high note, after the Illinois Board of Education recently named him “Board President of the Year.” He will be recognized by the group at their meeting in January in Springfield.

Ryan was also on the 230 United slate when he was elected in 2015. During his time on the board, he served on the finance committee and as a director for the South Cook division of the Illinois Association of School Boards, among other things.

“I will always look back with pride on my service and the accomplishments of the District 230 Board during my tenure,” Ryan said. “Our community has benefited tremendously from the dedication of the outstanding public servants who have given so selflessly to our district.”

Both have endorsed the new slate of candidates, which include incumbent Patrick O’Sullivan, an alumnus of Sandburg who is seeking his fourth term, along with newcomers Dave O’Connor and Mike Hardek. O’Sullivan, a former board president, vice president and chair of the Building and Finance Committee, now chairs the district’s education committee. He is president of a commercial insurance agency.

Dave O’Connor, an attorney in private practice, is another Sandburg alum from Orland Park. He currently chairs the Village of Orland Park Police Commission, and is vice-president of the District 230 Foundation, as well as being active in the Orland Youth Association and Orland Park’s St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

Hardek and his wife, Heidi, also live in Orland Park with their two children who attend Orland School District 135 schools, the main partner district of District 230. A commercial banker, he is the incoming president of the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce, and past president of the Orland Park Rotary Club. He currently serves on the D230 Building and Finance Committee.

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