Kaneshiki tops field in Hollidaysburg race
GOP ballot included 11 candidates for school board
Lois Kaneshiki has seen her share of controversy over the past two years as a member of the Hollidaysburg Area School Board, but on Tuesday, she finished first on the Republican ballot that included 11 candidates.
She is among five Republicans who will square off against an equal number selected by the district’s Democratic voters.
“It feels very good,” she said of her victory, pointing out she campaigned hard, knocking on more than 500 doors in her quest for a second term on the board.
She feels that the voters in her district “understand I was trying to do what is right for the community.”
A former leader of the Blair County Republican Party, Kaneshiki, 58, was part of a team of conservatives, and she felt that was helpful in her bid for re-election.
Kaneshiki led the ticket with 1,447 votes.
Three other members of the team also won on the Republican ticket: Kenneth B. Snyder, 71, a pastor and a self-employed remodeling contractor, 1,443 votes; Nicole L. Hartman, 35, a mother of three children in the school district, 1,421 votes; and, Manny Nichols, 52, a businessman, 1,308 votes.
The fifth Republican nominee was Doug Stephens, 48, also a businessman.
Present school director Lonna Zook Frye, 50, a marketing expert for a local business, came in sixth with 1,192 votes, but Frye, finished in second place on the Democratic ballot, and therefore will be running in the fall.
The Democratic ticket was led by Thomas D. McCaffrey, 65, a former Hollidaysburg Area teacher, who received 688 votes.
He was followed by: Frye with 669 votes; then came Brandon R. Burns, 40, a maintenance manager for a local firm, 666 votes; Timothy Surkovich, 57, retired, with 637 votes; and Jennifer Smilnak, with 554 votes.
Kirk Dodson, 61, a former member of the board lost on both the Republican and Democratic tickets.
Several of those running were making their first bid for office and were elated with their victories.
Nichols said he felt “pretty good.”
He said as he wrapped up his campaign Tuesday that the voters were upset about the recent tax reassessment by the county and also expressed concern at the expensive new school being constructed by the Altoona Area School District.
People in Hollidaysburg are afraid their local board will become involved in expensive projects as Altoona has.
He was part of the Kaneshiki team and described it as “taxpayer friendly” and fiscally conservative.
Hartman said she was overwhelmed by the support her group received and said she looks forward to the next step — hopefully to bring meaningful change in the district.
She said one her hopes is to bring more transparency to the way the board operates.
In a recent statement in the Altoona Mirror, she stated, “Transparency, communication and responsible spending are all important issues that need to be addressed.”