“I was not involved with the bitterness of the past, so I don’t have any problems moving on,” said Kleist, the only candidate in attendance with no board history.
Chuckles and applause followed.
While all candidates said they’re also ready to look forward, community members don’t appear to be finished dissecting the past.
More than half the questions audience Thursday addressed issues related to former superintendent Fred Fox’s controversial firing earlier this year.
Five of seven Huron Schools candidates seeking three open seats — Kevin Asher, Nancy Bulea, Donna Green, Kleist and Scott Slocum — weighed in on this issue and others at the Register-sponsored debate Thursday at BGSU Firelands. About 125 people attended the event, co-sponsored by the Huron Chamber of Commerce and Huron Public Library.
Candidates Sherry Catri and Eric Muehlhauser did not attend because of work-related conflicts.
When asked if current board members handled Fox’s investigation and firing properly, Bulea and Asher suggested those who voted to fire him spent too much money, causing longterm financial trouble for Huron Schools.
“The situation could have been handled through board policy, internally, and at no cost to taxpayers,” Bulea said.
Kleist also said it seemed all involved could have handled the situation better.
Green and Slocum, however, contended they handled the situation as best as they could, given its circumstances.
To watch a portion of the debate, click on the player below
The district’s fiscal situation is a result of statewide cuts to public education, not Fox’s firing, they said. Forecasts indicate the district’s reserve cash will be wiped out by 2015.
“We bent over backwards giving (Fox) his due process,” Green said. “Because our administrator was the top person, we had to have outside investigators. You can’t have someone with a lower ranking do that investigation.”
Green and Slocum voted to fire Fox in April. Asher voted against his firing.
An audience member also asked if candidates were in favor of reinstating Fox in the future, depending on the outcome of his pending lawsuits against the district. Green, Slocum and Kleist confidently said they were not, while Bulea and Asher diverted the question.
“It won’t be our decision, that decision will be determined by the court,” Asher said.
The candidates are seeking a four-year term on the Huron school board. The election is Nov. 5.
Asher, Bulea and Muehlhauser are campaigning together as a political action committee.