Meet the Candidates: Brecksville-Broadview Heights School Board

Seven candidates are vying for three open seats on the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Board of Education. School Board President Mark Dosen is seeking re-election to a fourth four-year term in office against six political newcomers, including Roger M. Bundy, Eric Drexler, Lisa Galek, Merri Gunzler, Samuel J. Lupica and Eva O’Mara. Current school board members Kathleen Mack and Brittany Wigman are not seeking re-election. Following are questions posed to the candidates by Brecksville Magazine. Their answers were limited to 225 words. Following are their unedited responses. ∞

1. What makes you a viable candidate for the board of education?

Bundy: I am a parent of three daughters – BBHHS class of 2021 and class of 2023 and a current eighth-grader. I have extensive experience leading organizations that provide opportunities for and support young people. My strong leadership skills and experience, combined with my passion for supporting young people, will restore the trust and credibility of the board of education among the district’s stakeholders.

Dosen: I have campaigned and served three terms on a simple platform: ensure continued educational excellence in the most fiscally responsible and transparent way. First and foremost, our focus must always be on preparing our students for the road ahead. That is why I have consistently supported staff and program additions whenever data-driven metrics indicates they are warranted. Fiscal discipline must always be balanced with the highest emphasis on educational outcomes. This has contributed to our long record of high rankings and recognition as one of the top districts in Northeast Ohio and Ohio as well. Along the way, board business should always be conducted in the most transparent manner to ensure public trust and board accountability. To learn more, visit

Drexler: Helping kids learn has been my passion and my practice for 15 years. Working in Brecksville-Broadview Heights as a speech-language pathologist over the past decade has given me valuable insights into what is working and what needs to be improved in our schools. I also have experience outside the world of education, as a practitioner at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital; as a director of development who brought people together to raise millions for cancer patients and their families; and as a daily newspaper reporter tasked with holding public officials accountable. I believe this skill set will serve me well as an engaged and responsive board member.

Galek: As a parent with children at each school level — elementary, middle and high school — I know what’s happening in our schools and am highly accessible to parents and community members. I’m also an active district volunteer who has collaborated extensively with teachers, administrators and elected officials on various programs and projects. Finally, I have attended in-person board meetings for two years, so I’m up to date on our district’s strengths and challenges and prepared to serve our community.

Gunzler: I am a proud and involved school community member. I serve on the elementary PSO Board and am alumni in the BBH Preschool Moms Club. I volunteer extensively at the elementary school and also volunteered at the High School and the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center. Parents asked me to run and I hope to represent them on Nov. 7. These are my resume and campaign page: and

Lupica: I am a lifelong resident of the Brecksville/Broadview Heights community. I am a 1992 graduate of this district and I also have two daughters that will be graduating from BBHCSD over the next seven years. I have spent nearly 30 years in the financial services industry working with small businesses, so I understand the many nuances of running a business including budgeting, balance sheets and forecasting. I have also been a member of several nonprofit boards and this has provided me many unique leadership experiences over the years.

O’Mara: My extensive experience (over 30 years) as a teacher and then an administrator in the BBH City School District.

2. What is the biggest issue facing the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Board of Education in the next four years?

Bundy: Restoring the trust and credibility of the board of education among all the stakeholders of the school district in our community. This is job one since it is a prerequisite to addressing all the other top issues facing the district, including: cultivating the community and financial support needed to restore cuts that have negatively impacted our district’s reputation and standing, and issues in the new elementary school as district enrollment increases.

Dosen: I am extremely optimistic about the fresh start underway with our new superintendent Jeff Harrison and the settling in that is occurring at our new Elementary School. The enrollment spike we encountered last year with the opening of the new building appears to have leveled off and there has been improvement in class sizes. The Five Year Forecast however, predicts deficit spending beginning this year and growing exponentially thereafter. This will need board-level focus.

Drexler: The biggest short-term issue facing our district is fully addressing the use of space at the new elementary school. The greatest long-term challenge is setting a new course for BBH administration, one that allows our district to fully harness the talents of our teachers, staff, students, parents and community. Together we can make BBH a model of educational excellence, following best-practice, evidence-based methods.

Galek: It’s a hopeful time for our district as we have a brand-new superintendent. I was pleased to meet with Mr. Harrison recently and discuss his fresh educational outlook. In the past, we have focused on reinforcing our finances and improving infrastructure with a new elementary school and updates at the middle and high schools. Now, we need board members committed to forming a positive working relationship with Mr. Harrison and shifting focus back to our strong academics.

Gunzler: There is not one big issue facing the school district but several. Enrollment/growth at the elementary level will continue to increase. Brecksville has five new developments with approximately 118 new homes and Broadview Heights has two new developments with approximately 72 new homes. Hilton and Highland properties will be TBD and Valor Acres will have 200 apartments/condos. Additional heavy hitting issues are teacher contracts, state and federal funding impacting local education, bullying, vaping and future levies.

Lupica: The greatest issue currently facing our district is to get all of the district’s stakeholders working together to provide the greatest possible education for our students. 

O’Mara: Sustaining the level of excellence in the district with ever-shrinking funding.

3.  What should the district do to conserve its cash balance?

Bundy: There are three ways to conserve a cash balance: maintain spending, increase revenue or both. Costs of education will always increase so the only way to maintain spending is to cut the amount of education. The district has already cut enough to create a negative impact on students. That leaves increasing revenue as the only viable option to conserve its cash balance since further cuts could cause irreparable harm to the district. Voters control the revenue. The board must restore trust and credibility with voters to earn their financial support.

Dosen: Elect board members committed to fiscal responsibility or, even better, re-elect a board member with a 12-year proven track record of financial discipline.

Drexler: Given the changes in state funding for schools, we must make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely in support of the core mission of providing high quality education. A transparent review of BBH’s administrative costs, seeking areas of redundancy and waste, would be a good first step toward that end.

Drexler: Given the changes in state funding for schools, we must make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely in support of the core mission of providing high quality education. A transparent review of BBH’s administrative costs, seeking areas of redundancy and waste, would be a good first step toward that end.

Galek: Our most recent five-year forecast signals an operating levy in 2026. When I talk with parents, many are concerned about how potential reductions in staffing or programs will affect their children. While fiscal responsibility is vital, it must be balanced with providing appropriate educational and co-curricular activities for our students. I would be cautious about conserving our cash balance if it meant a significant loss in opportunities for students or a higher financial burden on families.

Gunzler: A school levy is inevitable. The district’s treasurer has said it continuously in board meetings. What is undetermined is when. Initially, the projection date was 2026. Factors moving this date, are state and federal funding impacting local education and Valor Acres TIF funding. As a resident, I understand hesitation for a new or replacement levy, however, I am not in support of cuts to programming or staffing because our cities continue to grow. A sooner levy may be necessary.

Lupica: Our district is currently forecasting an underfunding issue in the next four years. Despite this knowledge the board has been slow to reach out to the community regarding this shortfall. We need board members who aren’t part of the status quo and are not part of past leadership as all this does is replicate our current issues. Our district will continue to face different challenges whether it be contract negotiations or future global shutdowns or less than stellar financial forecasts. I am a firm believer that if we face our issues with openness and transparency then we can create solutions together.

O’Mara: It is already extremely conservative in the way expenditures are allowed. The issue is will the expenditures be sufficient to continue the level of excellence the communities have come to expect. ∞

Editor’s note: Meet the Candidates is part one in a two-part series focusing on the candidates voters will see on the Nov. 7 ballot. While those running for Brecksville-Broadview Heights school board are featured in this issue, candidates seeking election to seats on city council, as well as the mayor’s office, will appear in the November issue of Brecksville Magazine. ∞

Roger M. Bundy
Age: 52

Mark Dosen
Age: 59

Eric Drexler
Age: 58
Speech pathologist

Lisa Galek
Age: 43

Merri Gunzler
Age: 46
Stay-at-home mom

Samuel J. Lupica
Age: 49
Wealth advisor

Eva O’Mara
Retired Educator