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Oswego 308 Board Votes to Put At-Large Election Option on Ballot

If passed, the referendum would no longer require a minimum of two board members to be from unincorporated areas of the Oswego 308 district.

The Oswego School District 308 board voted Monday night to put a measure on the April ballot that will allow residents to vote to move the electoral system to an at-large system.

Currently the District requires a minimum of two unincorporated members to be seated on the school board that consists of seven members. The two unincorporated members on the board now are Alison Swanson and Laurie Pasteris, although Pasteris’ term expires in April.

Going forward, school attorney Maureen Lemon said based on population shifts there may be a time in the near future when of the current ballot formats would fit District 308.

Under the current system if no one from an unincorporated area runs for a seat, the seat will remain vacant following the election until the board appoints an unincorporated resident to the seat. The same idea applies to if only one unincorporated resident runs for the seat in that they are automatically appointed.

President Bill Walsh said that if the referendum as approved it would not go into affect until the 2015 election.

Walsh supported the measure going to referendum. “[Voters] can share their thoughts on how we should move forward.”

Board member Mike Scarmuzzi was also in favor of putting the at-large option to a vote, saying that he felt the law was not meant to let a seat go vacant because the unincorporated requirements were not met.

The only board member who was opposed to offering the option to eliminate mandatory unincorporated seats was Laure Pasteris. “I think there should be representation from an unincorporated area. We do have different needs that I feel should be represented.”

The board vote 6-1 with Pasteris casting the only against vote for putting the measure on the April ballot. 

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ayar January 18, 2013 at 04:29 PM
I'm going to miss Mike Scaramuzzi's common sense approach to the issues the board had. I'm also going to miss Dave Behren's approach of getting all sides. It's sad that so many people are put off on running for a position on the board because some reporters [Ledger] are not from this town and not vested in it are running non-objective reporting [things for example like ledger recommends voting for...xxxx]. Patch on the other hand has been WONDERFUL on objective journalism. Thank you guys and keep it up !
mike ellison January 18, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Going to an at-large system is especially bad for the unincorporated residents in the District. This is because they already have no representation at the Village of Oswego and it was the Village's poor choices that lead to the out of control growth in the housing market. Residents, such as those in Boulder Hill, were on the sidelines with no influence as Oswego kept building houses with insufficient impact fees that raised their taxes. So it's more important than ever for the District to make sure that there is adequate representation on the Board from the unincorporated areas.
Tony Salerno January 18, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Mike, I believe you are against removing the requirement of having a minimum of two board members be from unincorporated areas of the Oswego 308 District? Those areas need representation and I agree with you! A vote NO against the referendum will allow full representation!
mike ellison January 19, 2013 at 08:45 PM
That's right Tony. It's too easy for Oswego residents to control what goes on with the District at the expense of non-residents; it's happened too much already. And I don't see how it's been a problem in the past. If no one runs then the Board simply needs to get an article in the paper letting u/i residents know that whoever wants the seat will get it. There's no reason for it to stay vacant other than the Board members not trying hard enough to fill it. I can see where a lot of people interested in being on the Board would not want the hassles of a campaign but would still want to serve on the Board if they were appointed.
J Goodsmith January 21, 2013 at 07:28 PM
@ Mike, I'm trying to understand exactly what school issues recently have been non inclusive to unincorporated residents? The current board has a minority of residents of Oswego now that one member resigned. Can you give me an example of 'Oswego' controlling the board that hurt or harmed non-residents because I can't think of any. If you can think of any good ones, I'll be with you. - Jim

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