Retired Altoona Pipe and Steel Chief Executive Officer Peter Hart recited his oath of office then took his seat on the Hollidaysburg Area school board after members voted 6-2 to install him Wednesday to fill the term of resigned member Bill Padamonsky.
Hart will serve as a board-appointed member until the 2013 municipal elections.
The board's meeting on Wednesday to appoint one of six applicants opened with Robert Vonada nominating Ron Sommer, who campaigned with him but lost the November 2011 school board election.
Vonada attempted to appeal to the board's majority of fiscally conservative board members by stating that Sommer's ideas of fiscal responsibility often leads people to mistake him to be associated with the tea party movement.
Wally Tomassetti was the only other board member to cast a vote for Sommer.
Board President Ron Yoder, Vice President Darlee Sill, Troy Keefer, Stephanie Wertz and Brady Leahey all voted for Aaron Ritchey's nomination, Hart.
The vote for Hart over Sommer mirrored the board's vote in June to pass a budget without a real estate tax hike for the year. The exception to the nearly identical vote on Wednesday was Padamonsky, who sided with Tomassetti and Vonada on favoring a tax increase.
After the meeting, Hart said he didn't distinguish between the board's members who voted against tax increases and Vonada, whose self-described "fiscally responsible" position includes a willingness to raise taxes.
Hart said fiscal responsibility was a major reason he applied for the position.
"I'm a senior citizen, and I know there are older people and young people who are living paycheck to paycheck. They are devastated if they lose that paycheck. Being a good steward of public money is the purpose of all board members and the superintendent [Paul Gallagher], for whom I have great respect."
In nominating Hart from a pool of six applicants, Ritchey said, "I was impressed with his experience, being the CEO of a large company, donating time to SCORE - a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses grow- and his service on the board of Frankstown Township supervisors."
Hart said his grandchildren, ages 1 to 19, although not in Hollidaysburg, are his motivation for serving children by joining the Hollidaysburg school board.
"I know how important these formative years are. And I know the workplace that awaits them is continually changing. What I want to do for my grandchildren, what I want to do for these children [of Hollidaysburg], I want to equip them with whatever education we can give them so they can cope with whatever they encounter after graduation."
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.