Voters send message over building project
Brennan,?Ceglar fall in re-election bids
Voters of the Altoona Area School Board primary election seemed to send a clear message Tuesday, said Frank Meloy, who won the Democratic nomination and came in second on the Republican ballot.
School board candidates may cross-file for primary elections, and Meloy is one of four candidates that received a nomination from both parties, unofficial results showed Tuesday night.
“It tells me that the community is very upset about the expenditures the district put into the new school,” Meloy said.
Members currently on the board who supported a high school building project, Dutch Brennan and Bill Ceglar, did not succeed in their re-election bids Tuesday night on either ballot, while incumbents who were against the project, Sharon Bream and Ron Johnston, won nominations along with new faces Meloy and Michael Baker on both ballots.
With five seats to be won in November and six candidates moving on to the general election, the chances of four candidates who emerged from the primary election are all but certain.
Unofficial results show Bream finished first on the Republican ballot with 2,867 votes, or 15.18 percent, then Meloy with 2,777 votes, or 14.70 percent. Johnston captured 2,660 votes, or 14.08 percent. Baker captured 2,159 votes, or 11.43 percent. Eric Haugh was the fifth candidate to win on the Republican ballot with 676 votes, or 8.87 percent.
Meloy finished first on the Democratic ballot with 1,315 votes, or 15.66 percent. Johnston captured 1,148 Democratic votes, or 13.68 percent. Bream captured 1,089 votes, or 12.98 percent. Baker captured 1,035 votes, or 12.34 percent. Josh Turiano was the fifth candidate to win the Democratic nomination with 848 votes, or 10.82 percent.
Voters of Democratic party chose five candidates from a pool of nine. Republicans chose five candidates from a pool of 10 candidates.
Meloy has prior elected experience as a Logan Township supervisor for 18 years and retired from the Altoona Area School District after 42 years. He served as assistant superintendent for 19 of those years at Altoona Area.
“They (voters) are very upset about the taxes and what is going to happen in the future,” Meloy said.
“I really appreciate the confidence they put in me,” Meloy said. “I will try my very best to offer my expertise and leadership skills I acquired over time to provide the best education the community can afford to provide to our children.”
Baker, who finished fourth on both ballots, is a curriculum consultant for Central Intermediate Unit 10 and was an Altoona Area teacher from 1998 to 2018.
“The voters seem to be thinking the same thing,” Baker said. “The top four were same candidates on both tickets. It seems like there’s a lot of interest in this election because of the issues the district is facing. There’s a big chasm among all the district’s stakeholders. The building project was the tipping point. My goal is to unite all stakeholders and rally them around education. The board, as it is currently composed, hasn’t done much to bring people together. That has to change because you can’t move forward without bringing people together.”
Haugh said he was happy about the results of the primary that put him on the general election ballot as a Republican.
“I am happy about the results, but we will have to see,” he said. “It looks like there are six of us. The top five get in, and we will see what happens.”
Turiano, the fifth Democratic nominee to the general election, said he was the only actual Democrat on the Democratic primary ballot. The others were Republicans who cross-filed.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I’m happy I’m there, even if its not on both like everyone else,” Turiano said.
“No matter who gets on board, they get a very hard job ahead of them. I want to bring creative thinking to the board. I really want to get on the board to fix some things. … I appreciate everyone’s support. I appreciate the donations for signs. I am grateful to everyone standing at the polls for us. I wouldn’t be here if it were not for them.”
Bream said the results of Tuesday’s primary speak clearly as voters backed herself and Johnston, who opposed the new $88 million high school building project.
Bream said she felt validated because she had previously said the board should put the new high school project to a voter referendum to see what people think.
“With the results of the primary, they voiced it loud and clear,” Bream said. “I can clearly see we cannot afford the school. I’m looking forward to the general election. I am happy to serve the people. I think I am in touch with how they feel. (The current board majority has) given us a mess, but we have to deal with it, and I look forward to doing that.”
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.