Chester Twp. Reps Battle for Regional Board Presidency

Newcomer Gary Lakritz selected to lead school board; Washington Township's Lisa Woodring named vice president at annual reorganization meeting.

Gary Lakritz, center, was selected as the West Morris Regional Board of Education president on Jan. 6. Lisa Woodring, right, was selected as the board's vice president.
Gary Lakritz, center, was selected as the West Morris Regional Board of Education president on Jan. 6. Lisa Woodring, right, was selected as the board's vice president.

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.

kittykitty January 07, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Pleased to see rational choices for Board President and VP; congratulations to all.
McDuff January 07, 2014 at 09:41 AM
What a disappointing outcome. Those who pay attention know that Mr. Lakritz's biggest failure as a member of the Chester K-8 BOE was his inability-and lack of interest-in listening to parents' concerns. He has demonstrated repeatedly his belief that he is elected to enact HIS beliefs and values, not those of the constituents he represents. I seriously doubt he has the backbone to halt Mr. Pendergrast in his tracks as the superintendent continually shoves enormous change through with little to no notice (remember the massive restructuring, the changes to theguidance department, and the new 5 year employment contract)? And Lisa Woodring as VP? Seriously? Has anyone ever listened to her in a meeting try to string two sentences together coherently? Another wasted year of opportunity to improve the district. So sad.
Domino January 07, 2014 at 10:34 AM
Excellent choice of leadership. What was very disturbing was Jamie Button's 3-page manifesto that he read early in the meeting, listing among other things all the people he hates. He is a very, very scary individual. The voters of Mendham Township have, in the opinion of many, elected a sociopath to the board. And of course Mrs. Asdal was disappointed but what could she expect? Her back stabbing politics during the recent Chester BOE election, where she ran a CBS lackey against Mr. Lakritz bit her in the as*dal. She will never learn.
maddy17 January 07, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Anyone have an idea why Don Storms would have abstained from the VP election of Lisa Woodring?
RepubBaby January 07, 2014 at 11:24 AM
I was wondering the same thing maddy17. The election of Mr. Lakritz and Ms. Woodring doesn't pass the smell test. Mr. Lakritz has long been suspected of being a Washington Township sympathizer. He should know that the 55% of Chester Township residents who did not vote for him will be watching his every move and will hold him accountable for any decisions which are deemed unfair to the students and parents of the Chesters.
Chester Boro Resident January 07, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Chester Township has no one to blame but themselves. Who's idea was it to have to people run against Lakritz. The vote was split. Either Bruce or Russ should have pulled out of the race. Lakritz is Jim Johnston in disguise. Why on earth did he nominate Lisa. Don Storms, I am ashamed of you! You should have aligned yourself with Chester and Mendham. The only reason Don Storms is on that board is because no one else wanted the headache! You abstained because you thought it would look good that you didn't vote for a Washington Township member--but you did--you voted for Lakritz
ChangeInChester January 07, 2014 at 12:47 PM
CBR you are right. We in Chester got what we deserve -- for school board and for mayor. The only way out of this nonsense with the WMRHSD is to obtain a divorce from WT - dissolution and reformation for a Chesters/Mendhams high school is the way forward. Residents should stay engaged in the ongoing process of obtaining a feasibility study. Mendham Borough is running point, so call them with any questions. Have faith, the reign of a WT dominated BOE is near it's end and along with it, the $6 million annual subsidy!!
BerniesBarStool January 07, 2014 at 12:54 PM
The whole lot are just silly little kids playing in a giant sandbox,except they are playing with our kids education and beyond that our funds. I think Brian Cavenaugh should be given his due to see if he can lend some of his knowledge to turning this thing around. Lakritz never impressed me at all,I agree with a fore mention that he does not listen and wants everyone to think the way he does,this is not a hallmark of a good leader. He will fail and we will have another wasted year.Lakritz should be retired next go round.
ChangeInChester January 07, 2014 at 01:09 PM
Gary should do the honorable thing and resign his new position as president and throw his support behind Marcia. Then maybe Don will grow some and actually support her - regardless of what Lisa W. tells him to do. Certainly Gary can't think that his presidency is popular. I know for a fact that many people in the community contacted him about supporting Marcia for president. I guess he didn't listen. Sound familiar?
BerniesBarStool January 07, 2014 at 01:15 PM
Honorable? Thats a hoot....
McDuff January 07, 2014 at 01:58 PM
I recall when Mrs. Asdal, as a new BOE member, was LAMBASTED by other BOE members when she offered to run for president against Cristen Forrester. Somehow, it's OK for Gary Lakritz to run as a new member? Who does he think he is- and how does he think what he has to offer is so superior to what Mrs. Asdal brings to the table? Looks like a double standard to me. Several of the men on the BOE seem to be threatened by Mrs. Asdal's intelligence and dedication to educational issues, especially Gary himself. For shame.
Barbara January 07, 2014 at 02:26 PM
"Some boards of education in NJ have policies that establish criteria for serving as president or vice president; for example, a one-year service requirement." This is a quote from the NJSBA website. Certainly seems like a common sense approach to me. So instead of common sense, let's elect a Board president with no experience in working with this group or its constituents. What the heck were the Board members thinking? Don't bother answering the question. It's never about the greater good or what's best for the students of the district. What a sad commentary.
Kathy S January 07, 2014 at 02:28 PM
McDuff is a riot to read. I think its great that Gary was chosen BOE president as he has a lot to offer as a past K-8 BOE president and I'm sure that's why he was supported 7-2. And WT rep Lisa Woodring was an excellent choice as well. They are both quite articulate - completely unlike my own MT rep who had to read a scripted speech as to his endorsement for his sidekick - Marcia. Not sure what Brian will bring to the table, but will wait to find out. Finally, I don't think anyone (male or female) are threatened (seriously?) by Mrs. Asdal's intellengence.
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) January 07, 2014 at 02:31 PM
Thanks for the comments, everyone. To be fair, McDuff, when Mrs. Asdal sought the presidency on her first day on the board, she did not bring with her nearly a decade of prior board experience, as is the case with Mr. Lakritz. @Barbara - that quote from NJSBA is interesting - does it specify a year of board service in total, or a year for the board said representative is currently serving? Thanks!
Barbara January 07, 2014 at 02:41 PM
It doesn't Jason. Maybe the expectation is that people will use good common sense or "intellengence" as per the comment above.
ChangeInChester January 07, 2014 at 02:55 PM
Jason, you are supposed to report the news, not be a part of it. Careful, your Washington Township bias is showing. That Gary spent years on the Chester BOE means nothing -- it's the quality of those years. His performance was lackluster at best, and anyone listening to his lackluster answers during the candidate forum knows this. If we had any kind of investigative reporting in the Chesters, then someone would have reported on whether there was a Knollwood Energy/solar panel connection. But we don't and it's spilled milk for now. Having said that, all WMRHSD BOE members should take note that ethics rules and the NJ State ethics law are there for a reason. And, there are enforcement mechanisms in place. And, they are user friendly.
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) January 07, 2014 at 03:01 PM
Whoa, whoa, whoa, ChangeInChester - slow down. Engaging in a conversation with my readers doesn't make me "part of the news" no matter how you slice it. Speaking about two Chester Twp. representatives doesn't show bias toward anything, including Washington Twp., which I have no bias toward when reporting the news. Now, to actually comment on your statement: had the roles been reversed and it was Mrs. Asdal who served nearly a decade prior to her first term on the regional board and Mr. Lakritz being the newcomer, I'd have no problem saying so (as I did above in the current situation). I took over Mendham-Chester Patch in August, at the end of Mr. Lakritz's tenure on the K8 board, so I'm unable to relate to his previous tenure. I look forward to covering the board in its current state with the new faces, and I can assure you we'll be reporting on all the news residents need to know going forward. Thanks!
Domino January 07, 2014 at 03:03 PM
The stench from the Asdal camp is beginning to permeate this thread. Now we see why Marcia Asdal could not get elected BOE Dog Catcher. These are the same kind of lies and innuendo that she employed when she ran her lackey for the BOE....and lost. Marcia please......ENOUGH !
Chester Boro Resident January 07, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Let's hope Don Storms can see the light. He has children at Mendham too. Gary was lackluster at best on the Chester BOE, which is why he lost to Asdal in his first try for the HS board. Like I said earlier, if Chester Township did not want Lakritz on the BOE, then they should have had one candidate running against him, not two. Bad planning.
BerniesBarStool January 07, 2014 at 04:33 PM
Lakritz is a flea really,nothing more than a pimple on the hind end of progress who is so self absorbed and self important he does not translate well to the average taxpayer.I am not impressed by him and would not be one bit surprised to find out he gets snagged in a ethics conflict. I personally have never met Marsha Asdale,I know nothing about her other than the drivel I read here which is worthless. Bottom line in this mess is you need people who can take in all aspects,stay above the rhetoric and innuendo and focus on doing what's right for ALL the towns. In the end if that means dissolving the WM School District then so be it
Kathy S January 07, 2014 at 05:12 PM
To ChangeInChester - want to talk ethics? Let's start with the person that nominated your Chester rep for president ... Mr Button.
ChangeInChester January 07, 2014 at 05:13 PM
If you have an allegation to make, let's hear it.
BerniesBarStool January 08, 2014 at 12:35 PM
I for one would love to know more about this solar panel mess on our schools property?
BerniesBarStool January 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Anyone? Anyone ? on this solar panel crap at the schools? the look like crap....is there any wrong doing here?
RepubBaby January 23, 2014 at 03:27 PM
I would love to know if Mr. Lakritz benefitted personally or otherwise from the solar panel project. Start be asking Mr. Lakritz and Kerri Wright, then, OPRA all committee and Board meeting minutes where this was discussed. I also want to know if MR. Lakritz used his position on the school board to influence where those solar panels were placed - there were options other than to put them in front of the school taking up open space and spoiling the view from the school and route 24 but to do so may have impacted his property and affected resale value. All questions which should be answered.
Domino January 24, 2014 at 03:54 PM
Apparently Charlene Arrington has a lot of time on her hands over at the Rockaway Sewer Authority. I guess there isn't enough crap to stir up over there. so she feels compelled to make up more crap and spread it around the Chesters. Gary Lakritz has been on the board for what, about 10 minutes, and this is how they react? Is Marcia so bitter about losing the BOE presidency that she has to start smearing everyone? Quite an ugly witches coven developing in the Chesters.
BerniesBarStool March 03, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Lakritz is a self important, posturing know it all is how he comes off to me. I personally have nothing against the guy,I just do not care for his self importance and his condescending way( like many in this area ) and if it were to come out that he had done something wrong...I would laugh to myself....that is all


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »