YATESVILLE — Five seats are open on the Pittston Area School Board heading into Tuesday’s general election. Seven area residents will taking a shot at claiming one of those eats.
With just two incumbents on the ballot, the election will feature a lot of new faces.
Rosanne Ricotta, Patrick O’Boyle and Maria Giamber Noone will each appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots after solid showings in the May primary election. Art Bobbouine and Michael “Kid” Crawford, appearing on the Republican and Democratic ballot, respectively, are also new candidates.
Two incumbents are vying to retain a spot on the board as Democratic nominee Joe Kelly and Republican nominee and former board president Charles Sciandra are on the ticket.
In the May election, Giamber Noone was the lead vote-getter in both the Republican and Democratic primaries with 2,400 Democratic votes and another 407 Republican votes.
Pittston Area will have to deal with hiring a new superintendent following Michael Garzella’s departure in August. Also on the minds of this year’s candidates is the budget. On Kelly’s mind, however, are education and students.
Kelly has been a fighter for stronger security measures and, as a career firefighter, he said that’s the top priority.
“I want to see the school get back on track and get the attention focused back on education and the kids,” he said. “It’s not a job factory and I think that has gotten out of control. We’re having budget issues all the time but we can’t keep raising taxes and not producing.”
Following the disappearance of a middle school student earlier this year, Kelly made it a point to get security measures back to where they need to be. In January of this year, fifth-grade student Audrey Esser, 11, was reported missing from Martin L. Mattei Middle School in Hughestown.
Esser was found safe after she left the school through a side door, which does not have a nearby security camera. It was later determined she had been taken to a doctor’s appointment by her grandfather.
“That’s always going to be paramount,” he said. “I’ve worked with kids with dangerous behaviors. Safety is paramount for every kid.”
Kelly is the only candidate running without a mate.
Giamber Noone, O’Boyle and Crawford are running together as PA First Team. Their slogan is “New Faces with New Ideas.”
“We want everything to be fair and help move things along,” said Crawford, a co-owner of By-Pass Mulch in Pittston Township. “We have to get in there and see if there’s anything we can do.”
One of Crawford’s sticking points is that taxpayers are complaining everything is too high. But first, he said, it will take a team effort to get things back on track.
“It’s a power struggle right now and that’s why nothing is getting done,” he said. “If we work together, maybe we can get something positive for the kids, taxpayers and teachers.”
Following a solid performance in the primary election, Giamber Noone, an account executive for Trinity Pharmacy, looks to make it on the ballot for the first time.
O’Boyle, who is employed at Terrana Law, PC, decided it was time to take his coaching talents to the school board. After serving as Pittston Area boys soccer coach for eight years – and previously at Seton Catholic – he looks to get his first shot on the board.
Ricotta, Bobbouine and Sciandra are also running together.
This is the second time Ricotta is running for school board, having failed to win a seat two years ago. Her biggest concern at Pittston Area is class sizes.
“Class sizes are growing, especially on the primary level,” she said. “The children are not getting the attention they need.”
A possible resolution to that problem, Ricotta said, is hiring volunteers as teacher aides, whether it’s retired teachers, parents or grandparents. In the end, she said, it all comes down to the district needing money.
“We need to open our doors to our community,” she said. “Somewhere along the line, we have to come up with a solution for our taxpayers. We’re an aging population and we’re putting too much stress on our homeowners.”
Ricotta is retired from the Bureau of Disability Determination.
Sciandra was appointed president of the board in 2013. The former Pittston Area school teacher is also a member of the Luzerne Country Transportation Authority.
Bobbouine is the former Luzerne Country chief deputy sheriff and a current member of the Pittston City Home Rule Association.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick