School board sees new faces; school renewal levy approved, but addition voted down

by Laura Bednar

Newcomers Anthony Avila (1,170 votes) and Katie Day Hill (1,360 votes) will take seats on the Independence Board of Education, according to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The two beat out current board members Andrea Marek (1,112 votes) and Joanie Mencl (874), as well as Matthew Urie (542) and Mike Zubic (867).

Issue 9, renewing the school’s current emergency operating levy, passed with 2,565 votes in favor and 1,314 against. This is an 8.19-mill levy that generates $4.2 million per year for the district. Taxpayers pay $286 for each $100,000 of appraised value. The levy commences next year with collections in 2025.

Issue 10, the 3.85-mill school levy addition, failed with 2,110 votes against and 1,749 in favor.

“I am very thankful for the community support of Issue 9. The overwhelming show of approval helps keep our district operational and robust,” said Superintendent Ben Hegedish. “With Issue 10 not being approved, our board of education will have to take the levy results feedback and collaborate on next steps regarding balancing the budget with potential revenue increases and operational adjustments to reduce expenditures. This will be much of the work the board will tackle over the next months.”

Independence Finance Director Vern Blaze will retain his position after defeating Chris Zamborsky 2,122 votes to 1,323.

The following city council members retained their seats: John DiGeronimo (2,195 votes), Tom Narduzzi (1,899), Anthony Togliatti (2,294), Jim Trakas (2,030), Dale Veverka (1,913) and Chris Walchanowicz (2,006). Togliatti received the most votes, making him vice mayor. Kevin Day, who received 1,951 votes, beat out fellow newcomer John Scheckel (1,162), taking the final seat on council.

Running unopposed, Greg Kurtz will return as mayor after earning 2,586 votes. ∞