Town Hall Provides Aid to Voters in Midst of WSD Board of Education Election

The second ever Town Hall took place on Tuesday, March 29, 2022


Liz Hayes

Moderators Sean Bruce (12) and Paige Bostic (12) preside over the Town Hall by asking questions to the BOE candidates.

Voting can be a tedious process. It’s crucial to research your candidates’ platforms, views, and accomplishments before you mark your ballot on Election Day. With the WSD Board of Education election only days away, and with seven candidates up for two open seats, it has never been more important to get to know your BOE candidates – and what better way to do so than with a Town Hall? 

Town Hall is a 100% student-run forum, produced by students of the Liberty Publications program, that aims to educate the WSD community about the current BOE candidates. The goal of the event is to “give all candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves, explain their platforms, and answer questions from their community,” via WSD BOE Town Hall on Facebook. 

The second-ever Town Hall was held on Tuesday, March 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Liberty High School auditorium. The event was live-streamed across the district from the LHS Publications Youtube channel, with over a collective 1,000 viewers tuning in to the show. 

The night began with moderators Sean Bruce and Paige Bostic welcoming viewers to the event. The candidates then introduced themselves and their platforms during the allotted 60-second opening statements. Candidates Dale Schaper, Julie Scott, Katie Lyczak, Donald Looney, J.J Suftko and John Kaelin were in attendance. Though all seven BOE candidates accepted the invitation to participate in Town Hall, candidate Sandy Garber was not in attendance. 

All candidates were then guided through three rounds of general questioning. The first round’s question pertained to what the district had done to support staff wellbeing and where there was room for improvement. The general consensus was to maintain a partnership between the BOE and Superintendent, while also listening to teachers’ voices. 

The second round of general questioning faced candidates with an often overlooked question when considering the ban of “The Bluest Eye” in our district. Candidates were asked, “What criteria should a book meet to be deemed academically valuable to the student body?”

BOE candidates Mr. John Kaelin and Ms. Katie Lyczak sit as they listen to the moderators. (Liz Hayes)

On this topic, candidate Ms. Katie Lyczak responded that academic value is a “subjective statement” and that the book in question “has a place at home.” Addingly, Secretary Schaper stated that he felt the book was “too play-by-play,” and “not in collective terms.” Other candidates had a different view, such as Mr. Donald Looney stating that “[The book] gives a little perspective and insight into another walk of life.”

The last general question asked candidates about determining whether a district program should receive taxpayer support. Most candidates agreed that it comes down to policy and the betterment of students and staff when considering.

The fourth round of questioning were personal questions directed toward the candidates and crafted around their respective platforms. Notably, Mr. Kaelin was asked how the district should balance STEM and the arts. Secretary Schaper was asked what he plans to do on the BOE if re-elected, responding with the importance of building more early childhood centers in the district. 

After a 15-minute intermission, candidates each answered two individual questions submitted by members of the WSD community. Candidate J.J. Suftko was asked if his pending lawsuit against the district created a conflict of interest, to which he responded, “No.” Secretary Schaper was asked how the BOE may ensure transparency in the future, simply responding that “[they’re] very transparent.”

The event ended with a 30-second closing statement from each candidate. After all questions had been answered, the moderators concluded the live-stream by reminding viewers to go out and vote on April 5. 

To keep up with election updates or see a recap of the event, make sure to follow WSD BOE Town Hall on Instagram and Facebook