Just minutes after Gary Lakritz officially took his post as a West Morris Regional Board of Education member Monday night, he was selected by five of his colleagues to be named the body’s president.
At the board’s annual reorganization meeting the nine-member group needed to fill its president and vice president slots after swearing in four members. Among them were newcomers Lakritz, of Chester Township, who replaces James Johnston, and Brian Cavanaugh, of Mendham Borough, who replaces Jacke Schram.
Lisa Woodring and Tom Richar were also sworn after being re-elected in unopposed election campaigns in 2013.
Washington Township representative and former vice president Joe Galayda nominated Lakritz, and was seconded by Woodring, but not before Mendham Township’s James Button nominated the other Chester Township representative – Marcia Asdal.
Cavanaugh seconded Button’s motion and the board was open to questioning both candidates.
Asdal took the opportunity to ask Lakritz how he would improve communication between the region’s K-8 districts and the regional district, as he ran on that premise during his campaign.
Lakritz, who served on the Chester School District Board of Education for nine years before being elected to his current post, referenced his time there and said as a member of that board he and other members would meet with members from the region’s other districts. As president of the regional board, he would like to do the same on a monthly basis.
Asdal, questioning Lakritz’s desire to become the board’s leader despite just being sworn in, asked why he would want the post.
“I guess I’m just following in line with Chester Township representatives on this board,” Lakritz retorted, referencing Asdal’s failed bid for the board presidency at the same meeting she was sworn in more than two years ago.
“I have more overall board experience than anyone here,” Lakritz continued. “I’m the only one here who has served as president as well.”
Lakritz lost to Asdal in an election for the Chester Township seat on the board in 2011 after Sue Guillmette did not seek re-election.
Galayda then gave Asdal the only question she received, asking how, as president, she would get the board to work better and more cohesively.
“I want more discussion,” Asdal said. “Under my leadership I think this would be a more engaged board. I really don’t see (our disagreements) as a big issue.”
Upon voting, Asdal, Button, and Cavanaugh supported the female candidate. Lakritz, Woodring, Don Storms of Chester, Galayda, Tom Richar and John Meyer of Washington Township all voted for the newcomer.
Once Lakritz was in place, Richar nominated Lisa Woodring as the board’s vice president. None were opposed, and the board voted in favor 8-0 with Storms abstaining.
Just as in 2013 when James Johnston and Joe Galayda served as president and vice president, respectively, the board is now led by Chester Township and Washington Township representatives. Prior to that, Washington Township's Cristen Forrester served as president while Johnston served as vice president.