Incumbents in 3 northern Schuylkill County school districts sweep races

·3 min read

May 20—All incumbent candidates in three northern Schuylkill County school districts swept their primary elections to run unopposed in the November general election.

The results of all elections were unofficial as of Wednesday.

There were challengers who cross-filed on the Democratic and Republican ballots, hoping to get the chance to run on Nov. 2 in the Mahanoy Area and North Schuylkill school district races.

In the Mahanoy Area race, incumbents Karen E. Yedsena, John Honus, Steven Gnall and Jim Mitchell locked up both the Republican and Democratic nominations, according to the unofficial results.

Once the votes are verified, the four will run unopposed in the general election for four-year terms on the school board.

Mary "Fran" Zack and Larry Levy were at the bottom of the field in both parties. Gnall, Yedsena and Honus were running for their third terms, while Mitchell seeking a second term.

The totals were:

Democratic ticket: Yedsena, 517; Honus, 463; Gnall, 437; Mitchell, 350; Zack, 271; and Levy, 140.

Republican ticket: Yedsena, 611; Honus, 595; Gnall, 578; Mitchell, 494; Zack, 263; and Levy, 232.

The race for Mahanoy Area was watched closely due to Levy's run because of a lawsuit that he and his wife, Betty Lou, filed against the school district after their daughter, Brandi, was suspended from the junior varsity cheerleading squad in 2017 because of a Snapchat post that included vulgar language and a photo with an obscene gesture.

The post was made while Brandi was not on school property on a non-school day.

The Levys won the challenge in court on her First Amendment free speech rights. The district appealed to higher federal courts, the last being the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28. The justices are expected to announce their decision on or by June 30.

Larry Levy said Wednesday he will keep track of how the district and school board moves forward.

"While I am disappointed that my message of fiscal restraint and treating students fairly didn't translate into a victory at the polls, I respect the voters' decision and will congratulate the winners, whom I will hold accountable," he said. "I encourage all taxpayers to attend school board meetings and help me monitor the education of our children and the financial decisions of the Mahanoy Area school board."

North Schuylkill

The North Schuylkill school board had five incumbents and two challengers on the ballots of the two parties.

The incumbents — Glenn Weist, Suzanne O'Neill, Janine Simms, Thomas Fletcher and Douglas R. Gressens — won on each party ballot and will run unopposed in November.

The challengers were David Seresky and Donna Salem.

Totals were:

Democratic ticket: O'Neill, 772; Weist, 766; Gressens, 715; Simms, 618; Fletcher, 550; Salem, 445; and Seresky, 409.

Republican ticket: Weist, 1,479; O'Neil, 1,285; Gressens, 1,218; Fletcher, 1,070; Simms, 1,061; Seresky, 923; and Salem, 675.

Shenandoah Valley

In Shenandoah Valley, four incumbents — William Moyer, Helene Creasy, Karen Kayes and John J. Petritch Jr. — were the only candidates for the four open school board seats on both ballots.

(Updated to include comments from Larry Levy.)

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