Hampton Township School Board race draws 6 candidates
The primary will be May 21, and there six candidates — three of whom are presently serving — running for five open seats on the Hampton Township School Board.
The candidates discuss why they are running and what they hope to accomplish if elected:
Robert Shages has lived in Hampton for 32 years. He is originally from Connecticut, having also lived in Schenectady, N.Y., and Charlottesville, Va., before moving to the Pittsburgh area.
Both of his sons attended HTSD from kindergarten, with the older graduating in 2001 and the younger in 2004.
Shages retired from General Electric, where he managed Engineering, Marketing, Sales, and Process Improvement organizations. He continues to consult for GE part-time in the company’s Contracts and Government Compliance groups.
Shages was elected to the HTSD board in 2003. He has served as president for three years. During that time, he said, he led a search for a new superintendent and served as chair of nearly every committee. He has been board treasurer for the past five years and is chair of the Policy and Legislative Committee. This month, he was re-elected to another three-year term on the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Board of Directors, where he serves as president of the Head Start/Early Head Start Governing Board.
“In my 16 years on the board, I have diligently worked to move Hampton to be a great district — academically, financially and organizationally, as well as an outstanding community asset,” Shages said. “I would like to continue my service to Hampton and see us through the many program and physical plant improvements we have started and assure they are completed successfully and fiscally responsibly.”
Lawrence Vasko, 65, moved to Hampton in 1990. He is from the Regent Square area of Pittsburgh and graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Penn State University and a master’s in business administration from Duquesne University. His daughter Kate, 36, attended Hampton from the second grade, graduating in 2001, and his son Dan, 33, attended from kindergarten until his graduation in 2004.
Vasko began working in Hampton in 1977 as a certified public accountant for Bock, Braund & Eiler, becoming a partner in 1986. In 2014, the firm — by then called Braund, Eiler & Vasko — was sold, and Vasko now works part-time as a senior tax manager for Herbein + Co.
Vasko, a current school board member, was appointed to the board in 2002 and elected to the position in 2003. He served as president in 2003, as treasurer from 2004 to 2009 and as finance chair from 2004 to present. Vasko has served on the A.W. Beattie Career Center Joint Operating Committee since 2010. He served as JOC board chair of the Policy Committee and as president. He is currently Hampton’s JOC vice president. Vasko served three years on the audit committee of the Pennsylvania School Board Association.
He is running to “continue to improve on Hampton School District’s high educational standards while being fiscally responsible to the voters.”
Bryant Wesley II
Bryant Wesley II moved to Hampton in 2008 with his wife, Leslie, and three sons. Originally from what was once the small farming town of Roxboro, N.C., Wesley has been in the Pittsburgh area since 1993. He met his wife while both were students at the University of Pittsburgh law school. He has three sons in the district: Emmett, 11, is a fifth-grader at Central Elementary; Garrett, 13, is a seventh-grader at the middle school; and Brennan, 15, is a high school freshman. All have attended HTSD since kindergarten.
Wesley is a vice president and senior associate counsel in the UPMC Corporate Legal Department. He is a registered certified public accountant in the state of North Carolina and was an auditor at Coopers and Lybrand before returning to law school.
He was appointed to Hampton’s school board in January 2011 to fill a vacancy caused by the death of former board president Harold Sarver. He was elected in two subsequent elections for two consecutive four-year terms. He has been president since January 2013.
He is running because “resident involvement through volunteering is what makes a great community. Hampton is a great community because we have so many residents that devote their time in so many ways, whether on the school board, the PTO, booster organizations, coaching youth sports, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc. Serving on the school board is a way to contribute to this great community, and it has been an honor to do so.”
Don An, 49, originally from the Washington, D.C., area, has been a Hampton resident for nearly 10 years. He and his wife live in Allison Park with their two daughters, a junior and an eighth-grader in the school district.
This is his first time running for elective office. He is on the board of the Hampton Dolphin Swim Club. An is an IT director for a Fortune 500 company in Pittsburgh.
An said having more board members with children currently in the district represents a better balanced board. An said he would focus on ensuring finances are handled responsibly and in a balanced and forward-looking fashion, with regard to not only bond issuance, but also property taxes.
“I also believe that smart investments in education will result not only in better student performance, but also in the rise in property values, thus benefiting all property owners in the district and not just those who have children currently enrolled in the district’s schools,” he said.
Joy Midgley has been a Hampton resident since 2008. She is married to lifelong resident and 1995 HTSD alumnus Jason Midgley, with whom she has two sons who are students in the district, in seventh and fifth grades. They are members of St. Mary of the Assumption church in Glenshaw, and they are active in the community, volunteering for organizations including Hampton Baseball, Hampton Junior Football and Hylax.
Midgley moved here from Ohio in 2001 and has an associate’s degree in science, nuclear medicine. She is finishing her bachelor’s degree at La Roche University. She’s been employed at UPMC Shadyside for the past 16 years.
She says she is passionate about high-quality education, a sense of community, family and school safety.
“I would like the opportunity to help support the district in making good, solid, fiscally responsible decisions for the students, teachers and taxpayers,” she said. “I am excited and motivated to make a positive impact with the Hampton Township School District.”
Matthew Jarrell, 43, has lived in Hampton from 2000 to 2003 and from 2011 to present. He is married to Chiara Orsini and has three boys in the district. He is originally from Charleston, W.Va.
This is his first time running for office in Hampton though he has 15 years’ experience as a board member of Riverview Children’s Center, a private early childhood education school in Verona. He is an attorney at the law firm Sherrard, German & Kelly, PC.
Jarrell is running, he said, because he sees an opportunity to help sustain the exemplary stewardship that has made HTSD a top-tier school district and Hampton Township a top-tier community.
“My choice also stemmed from my own investment in the community by way of my three school-aged sons,” Jarrell said, “and the choice my wife and I made years ago to buy property, raise our family and become permanent parts of the community.”