April 25, 2014

Elyria
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Two write-in Elyria school board candidates shoo-ins this November

Evelyn France, left, and Annie Croft are shoo-ins to fill the vacancies on the Elyria school board -- as write-in candidates.

Evelyn France, left, and Annie Croft are shoo-ins to fill the vacancies on the Elyria school board — as write-in candidates.

LORAIN — Two write-in candidates — a veteran to the Elyria school board and a newcomer with ties to both the Elyria chapter of the NAACP and Lorain County Auditor’s Office — are virtual shoo-ins for election in the upcoming general election.

Longtime Elyria school board member Evelyn France is waging a write-in campaign after she withdrew petitions that were on the way to becoming invalid. With four successful campaigns under her belt, France confirmed Wednesday that she pulled her petitions soon after submitting them when it was learned she did not obtain enough valid signatures.

She did so before the Lorain County Board of Elections could disqualify her from running.

“I turned in 217 names and came up 11 short,” she said. “I needed 140 valid signatures, but once my names were checked, some were eliminated because they lived in Elyria but not in the Elyria school district and other signatures didn’t match voter cards.”

France’s name will not appear on the November ballot, but electors who wish to re-elect her will have to write her name as their chosen candidate, said Paul Adams, director of the Lorain County Board of Elections.

France said ensuring she remained on the school board was important in the face of three school operating levies that are up for renewal — one in November and two more in May.

“We have to get those passed because they mean so much for our district. I felt I had to be there and show the community consistent leadership in their school board,” she said. “Without passing all three of these renewals, we will be faced with drastic budget cuts, and I would not want to see that happen.”

Voters will also have to write in the name of Annie Croft of Pasadena Avenue, who is also running for the board.

The only thing that stands in the way of France and Croft being electied is if no one votes for either and they don’t do it for themselves. There are two available seats for election — France’s and that belonging to board member Ginny Hawes, who did not seek another term.

“With two candidates, each will just need one person to write them in to win election,” Adams said.

Hawes has been a board member since 2001, when she won as a write-in. Since then, she has been a non-stop supporter of the district and was an outspoken champion for transparency with residents. She said she is leaving office for personal reasons.

“I needed to move on and devote some time to my family after all the years of things we have been through,” she said. “Leaving was a hard decision to make because this has been a big part of my life for so long, but sometimes you have to make the tough decisions that are best for you, and now’s that time for me.”

Hawes said she will remain active in the district in other ways.

“I will still be involved,” she said. “We have done a good thing in restoring the trust citizens have in the Elyria Schools. When we say what we say, residents know we’re not lying to them. We have been adamant about that from the very beginning, and I am sure that will continue in the future.”

This is Croft’s first time running for elected office, and it is all but guaranteed that she will be the newest member of the Elyria school board.

She said she chose to run because she wanted to share her belief in education with the community.

“I continue to educate myself to this day, and I am a true believer that education is the only way our youths will succeed in the future,” she said. “Elyria Schools is headed in the right direction, but in order to find solutions to issues, you have to be involved in the process.”

Croft, 47, said she, like so many other parents in the community, was not completely satisfied with Elyria’s most recent report from the state, but feels the grades — the Ohio Department of Education recently scored Elyria with n A, four Cs, two Ds and two Fs. — are not indicative of the overall education students receive in Elyria.

“Both my children attended Elyria Schools, and I definitely feel like they received a good education, but we need to find solutions to increase test scores. We are not at the lowest end, but we could really improve.”

Croft works as the public information officer for the Lorain County Auditor’s Office. She is a graduate of Leadership Lorain County, is the unit secretary for the Elyria Chapter of the NAACP and a member of the Elyria Democratic Women’s Club.

She is finishing a master’s degree in human resource management at Ashford University, has a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Cleveland State University and two associate degrees from Lorain County Community College.

Originally from Alabama, Croft came to Elyria in 1991. She is married to John Croft and has two children, Maygan, a member of the first graduating class of Elyria Schools’ Early College program, and William, a junior at Elyria High School.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.

  • oldruss

    Are voters precluded from writing-in anyone else’s name? Are these two candidates the ONLY persons who are now eligible to be elected?

    • seanmacnair

      I certainly hope not. I hate elections that have people running unopposed. I’m officially declaring my candidacy. Sean MacNair for Elyria School Board!