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2 Pine-Richland board members not seeking re-election

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Jeff Banyas
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Stephen Hawbaker

The Pine-Richland School Board needs two new members to replace Richland accountant Stephen Hawbaker and Pine physician Jeff Banyas.

Neither plans to run for re-election when his term expires at the end of December.

“I have second thoughts about it all the time, but I truly think it's important for newer people to get involved,” said Hawbaker, a certified public accountant with Allegheny Financial Group.

Banyas, an ear, nose and throat specialist, found it difficult to juggle his life as a solo, private medical practitioner with the time commitment of serving on the school board.

“I found it increasingly difficult to make all of the meetings, do all of the reading required as a school director and give sufficient attention to my practice, particularly over this past year,” Banyas said.

“I found the experience of my three-plus years on the school board challenging and invigorating, and I truly believe that it is important work.”

No one has filed the needed paperwork — a statement of financial interests — to enter the May 21 primary and possibly replace Hawbaker in Region 3 of Richland, or Banyas in Region 2 of Pine and Richland.

Anyone from those regions who gets 10 write-in votes in the primary may run in the Nov. 5 general election for a board seat.

Laura Ohlund and Virginia Goebel, both of Richland, won their current seats after each got enough write-in votes in the 2011 primary, according to the Allegheny County Elections Division. They replaced school directors Aafke Loney and Bob Neccia, who didn't run for re-election.

Hawbaker, who joined the board 12 years ago and is a former president, expressed surprise that no one seems interested in the vacancies.

“I've been talking with a lot of people, encouraging them to run,” said the father of three.

“What I always say to them is, ‘You're very concerned about this district. I can't tell you a better way to be involved and to impact the children in the community than being on the (school) board.'”

Banyas remains optimistic that people will step up.

“We are truly fortunate in the Pine-Richland community to have a wealth of highly intelligent and engaged residents, parents and taxpayers,” said Banyas, a father of two.

Last year, the board appointed Katie Shogan and Marc Casciani, both of Pine, to fill seats vacated when Kevin Nigh and Rich Herko resigned.

Shogan and Casciani, along with school Director Dennis Sundo of Pine, filed paperwork needed to run in the primary. Gregory DiTullio of Pine also filed paperwork needed to run as a Republican challenger from Pine's Region 1, for Shogan's current seat.

If there are no successful write-in candidates to replace Banyas or Hawbaker, the board will have to appoint replacements.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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