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52-year Austintown BOE member loses seat

November 6, 2019
Allie Vugrincic , The Town Crier

Incumbent Harold Porter and newcomer Kimberly Smrek won two open seats on the Austintown Board of Education, with long-time incumbent Dr. David Ritchie losing his seat of 52 years.

Ritchie, 81, said he would like to congratulate Smrek on her victory. A retired surgeon, Ritchie said he will "certainly" miss being on the board.

"You don't be on there for that many years and not miss it," Ritchie said. He took 23 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election night results from the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

Newcomer to the board Smrek, 52, took the lead in the race with 32 percent of the vote.

"I am very excited," Smrek said. "I just want to improve communication, accountability, transparency, and keep moving forward."

Smrek has three children in the district and is a self-employed accountant. She previously said her background in accounting and management could be valuable with upcoming changes to the state funding formula.

She previously said she would like the district to offer more diverse classes to provide students avenues to vocations.

Porter, 49, a board member since 2012, took 27 percent of the vote. He said he felt "vindicated" by the results.

"I feel vindicated because of the strong public support shown to me tonight. I fought relentlessly my first six years with little progress because I was the lone voice," said Porter.

He also said he wanted to thank Ritchie for "52 years of leadership in the Austintown Schools."

Porter, a 1988 graduate of Austintown Fitch High School, is a registered nurse by trade and a co-owner of Austintown Bounce. He previously said he would like to see open enrollment stopped in the district and that his goals going forward include improving school transportation and increasing retention for administrators.

Also in the race was Nick Cocca, 25, who took 16 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results.

Cocca, a 2013 graduate of Fitch, ran on a platform focused on teacher retention and curbing open enrollment.

Cocca said he is supportive of Smrek and Porter.

"I told them I'm rooting for them hard. I hope they do well and improve our schools and improve the district," Cocca said.



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