Term limits among issues discussed at school forum

March 12, 2010

Two of the six candidates running for the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board said they would like to see term limits imposed on board members.

Incumbent George Sotiros and challenger Len Kopet said during a candidate forum Thursday they appreciate the insight and experience long-serving board members bring to the school district, but there is a greater need for turnover and fresh ideas.

Sotiros said he would serve for no more than 10 years, while Kopet said he favored a limit of four terms, or 12 years.

"People are less willing to step up to the plate, to be a candidate, because someone else has been there for such a long time," Kopet said. "(Term limits) give the other citizens of our community an opportunity to be a candidate for this board."

But other candidates said the experience some School Board members have is key to a successful board.

West Allis-West Milwaukee has several long-serving elected officials. Carol Garrison, the longest-serving board member, brings 23 years of experience, followed by Pat Kerhin with 21 years. Darlene Ziemendorf and Sue Sujecki have served 15 and 11 years, respectively.

Incumbent Susan Stalewski, who has served for the past six years, said the best school boards across the country become that way because of stability. While term limits would bring a sense of urgency, West Allis-West Milwaukee is better served with experience, Stalewski said.

"The way that we limit the terms is to have elections like this," challenger Jane Edgar said. "If we're voted out, we're voted out."

The West Allis-West Milwaukee Parent-Teacher Association sponsored the two-hour forum, which will be rebroadcast on cable channel 14.

The six candidates are running for four spots on the School Board in the April 6 general election.

For a full story, check back on WestAllisNOW.com next week or read the March 18 print edition of the newspaper.

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