Lebanon resident with 2 kids in elementary school chosen for board seat

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2019 9:58:29 PM

LEBANON — School Board members selected a Navy veteran and maintenance supervisor at Timken Aerospace to replace outgoing board member Erin Madory on Wednesday night.

Aaron Mills, who has two sons attending elementary school in Lebanon, ultimately received unanimous support to beat out two other applicantss for the open seat.

However, board members were split in a straw poll prior to his appointment.

While three members (Mary Davidson, Tammy Begin and Martha DiDomenico) supported Mills, School Board Chairwoman Wendy Hall and board member Tom Harkins indicated their support for former board member Ralph Horak.

Meanwhile, board member Richard Milius was the sole supporter of Carl Porter, a former city historian and Lebanon native, to fill the seat.

Madory abstained from the vote, and board members Adam Nemeroff and Jenica Nelan were absent.

“I see the board’s role as shaping our future through our children,” Mills said during his interview. “It’s your role to help shape them and put them on the right track, and I think I can provide the voice of the common person.”

His term starts on July 1, when Madory’s resignation takes effect, and runs until March 10, the date of Lebanon’s next municipal election.

The School Board began taking applications to fill the open seat last month after Madory, a Spanish teacher at the Francis C. Richmond Middle School in Hanover, announced her intention to step down. She plans to move overseas before the next school year, according to her resignation letter.

That led to Mills; Porter, a former member of Lebanon’s Planning Board; and Horak, who sat on the School Board for about two months in 2017, all applying.

Mills said he spent 20 years in the Navy and three years learning to fit into civilian life. He said it’s now time to enter civic service.

Porter, who has run for elected office five times and lost all five races, said everything he’s worked on, he’s given it 100 percent.

“I’m interested in serving because I’ve always felt a call to serve my community,” Porter told the School Board. “I’ve just always felt a desire to serve in some fashion.”

Horak also touted his past experience, saying the short time he spent on the board provided a helpful footing to move forward.

“It was an eye opening experience, a huge learning curve and I was just helping the SAU, and I didn’t know what that fully meant,” he said. “I hope that by the end of 2½ months, I may have asked one or two pertinent questions.”

All three candidates cited the school system’s aging buildings and space needs as among the largest challenges facing the district.

Lebanon voters in March rejected the School Board’s attempts to solve those issues through a $20 million “modernization plan” that sought to add classroom space and secure entryways to the city’s schools.

For the second year in a row, they also killed plans to spend $9.4 million on a new auditorium for Lebanon High School.

The School Board hasn’t yet decided whether to bring the projects up for another vote next year and is awaiting completion of the state budget, which could include building aid.

The board on Wednesday deliberated on its choice in open session, despite calls from members last month to discuss the vacancy in private. Former officials criticized that stance, saying the public has a right to know why a candidate is being chosen.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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