'Trust' takes center stage a school board candidate forum

School board races are non-partisan but that does not mean they are any less heated.

Posted: Oct 9, 2018 11:09 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - School board races are non-partisan but that does not mean they are any less heated.

The Vigo County League of Women Voters is organizing a series of candidate forums. They say the forum Tuesday night had the highest attendance yet and that is likely due to the fact this forum was for school board candidates. It focused on only the contested races for the 4th and 5th Districts.

The public submitted questions for the candidates but one topic specifically was off limits. The moderator told the crowd they would not be discussing any pending litigation and explained current board members are prohibited from talking about it.

While the investigation into former Superintendent Danny Tanoos was not directly discussed, the fallout was addressed and challengers are putting blame on school board incumbents.

District 5 Challenger Rosemarie Scott said, "You trust these people? I don't. I can tell you I do not trust them and I think it's just a lot of lip service."

District 4 Incumbent David Lotter said, "If I didn't say this I would be not talking about the elephant that's in the room. The last two years, we as a community, not just a school board or school or Terre Haute, but we as a school community and community at large have had a trust issue."

District 4 Challenger Scott Powell said, "I want to see accountability in our school and I want to see oversight of the superintendent. I want to see good policies. I don't want the money wasted. I want ethical, school board making ethical decisions. "

District 5 Challenger Joni Wise said, "The people that I work with at the health department, they're my coworkers, they're not my employees. I understand our organizational chart but we all work together for the same goal."

District 5 Incumbent Alpa Patel said, "I've heard a lot of words here tonight: trust, change, honesty. I see some of you, very few, come to school board meetings. Trust when it is here is never noticed. When it's not here it's noticed and that's why all you guys are filling up the room."

Current board members Patrick Sheehan and Tammy Pearson are not seeking re-election. Susan Powers is the only 1st District candidate and Hank Irwin is the only candidate in the 2nd District.

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