Field set for Baldwin-Whitehall school board primary after court decision
The nine-member Baldwin-Whitehall School District Board has five seats up for reelection this year and no shortage of candidates interested in filling them.
Eleven people are running in the May 21 primary. Five of six new candidates are running as a group called Fresh Start, while five incumbents have formed their own slate, Moving Forward.
In March, the mothers of two Fresh Start candidates challenged the nomination papers of the five incumbents and one other candidate, Mike J. Sharp, in court. Petitions to set aside the six candidates’ nomination papers were filed on behalf of Belinda Rosing and Rose Casciato, according to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
The women claimed the nomination papers were fraudulently altered, arguing they did not contain the signatures of valid electors and additional signatures were added after a notary had signed the affidavits, according to Peter Giglione, an attorney and school board member who represented himself and the other four incumbents before the trial court.
“What they were trying to argue was that the notary should not have been permitted to (re-sign the affidavits), even though there’s Pennsylvania case law that says the notary can do that,” Giglione said.
All 11 candidates cross-filed to appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.
The court did decide to remove two candidates, Robert Achtzehn and Sharp, from the Republican ballot. Achtzehn did not have enough signatures from Republicans in the district, while Sharp signed his Republican circulator affidavit even though he is a registered Democrat, Giglione said.
After Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph James denied the other petitions, Rosing and Casciato appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which affirmed the lower court’s rulings.
Gaul Legal LLC, which represented the petitioners, declined to comment on the litigation. Casciato also declined to comment, and Rosing could not be reached.
Board members serve four-year terms.
• Mike J. Sharp — partner at New York Life Insurance Company and part-time police officer in North Versailles who also serves on the Baldwin Borough zoning hearing board. A graduate of Baldwin-Whitehall, Sharp and his wife are raising their teenage sons in the district. His name will appear on the Democratic ballot only. Sharp believes his experience, education and training could be of a benefit to the district.
• Stacy Lynn Bradley — small business owner and director of environmental health and safety for Trophy Energy Services, LLC. She is a graduate of Baldwin High School. Her objectives include enhancing school security and preventing future tax increases.
• Jennifer Rosing Cochran — works as a senior administrator at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. A native of Baldwin, Cochran graduated from Baldwin High School in 1994. Cochran wants to be on school board to help more, understand more and try to make a difference in the lives of children.
• Kathleen Cusick Fenlock — worked as a cancer data specialist at UPMC for 38 years and has recently retired. If elected, her priority is to promote an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for every child in the district.
• Danielle Rebecca Hillgartner — works for Port Authority of Allegheny County as assistant director of rail service delivery. She has three children, all of whom have attended or currently attend Baldwin High School. Hillgartner pledges to keep the entire community involved in decision-making.
• Andrea Casciato Hulsman — a bank officer at Dollar Bank, Hulsman also serves as a board member for the Brentwood Baldwin Whitehall Chamber of Commerce. Her priorities include working to reduce the district’s debt and crafting a budget that does not raise taxes.
• Robert Achtzehn — has worked in supply chain for 28 years, where he has managed people and large budgets. He has raised two children in Baldwin-Whitehall School District. Achtzehn was voted onto the school board in the spring of 2018. Achtzehn is running because he loves the district and his children have had positive experiences as students. His name will appear on the Democratic ballot only.
• Anthony DiCesaro — has practiced as a chiropractor for two decades and is the proprietor of Whitehall Health Centre. He has a son who attends school in the district. DiCesaro currently serves as first vice president of the school board. DiCesaro believes “if we put the welfare of the children first and the community as a whole a close second, we cannot fail.” He was elected in 2015.
• Peter Giglione — attorney for the law firm Massa Butler Giglione and has two daughters who are students in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District. Giglione has pledged to always make sure parents’ voices are heard by the board. He was appointed to the school board in September 2018.
• Dan Knezevich — a logistics manager at Schneider’s Dairy, Knezevich is a graduate of Baldwin High School. Knezevich ran for the board in the hopes of being able to make a significant change. He believes in the superintendent’s vision of providing students with a quality education. He has raised two daughters in the district. Knezevich was elected to the school board in 2015.
• Janice Tarson — currently works as a registered nurse and has two children who have attended school in the district. Tarson is committed to keeping the district curriculum pertinent for success in the 21st century. Tarson was elected to the school board in 2015.