With the Cook County Clerk’s Office accepting applications for prospective candidates for the April 4 school board elections through Dec. 19, eight people on Monday officially threw their hats into the ring for seats on the Proviso Township High Schools Board of Education.

With several days left for election petitions to be submitted, the two sides, representing personal and operational differences on the existing board, are already evident, with clear candidates for next spring’s election.

As of Dec. 13, the following District 209 candidates (barring petition challenges) are signed up to run for election for a full, 4-year school board term (in alphabetical order):

  •  Daniel Adams (incumbent)
  •  Rodney Alexander
  •  Brian Cross (incumbent)
  •  Amanda Grant
  •  Teresa McKelvy (incumbent)
  •  Arbdella “Della” Patterson
  •  Samuel Valtierrez
  •  Jacqueline Walton

The current board members with Forest Park ties, Claudia Medina, Ned Wagner and Theresa Kelly are not up for re-election until April 2019, but they will be backing four new individuals in alignment with their 209 Together coalition to bring change for all Proviso students, with the goal of ridding what they consider excessive political influence on the D209 school board.

According to Medina, candidates and political newcomers Rodney Alexander, Amanda Grant, Della Patterson and Samuel Valtierrez are planning to campaign with her slate’s same message of grassroots change.

Medina says the four candidates, who have either had children in the district or are planning on sending their children to Proviso schools within the next few years, are pleased with her slate’s work toward enacting positive changes district-wide.

“In a year and a half, it is unfathomable that we have been able to drive [this] much change,” she said. “These are parents and engaged community members who are thrilled with what has been happening with Proviso and want to continue driving all of the reforms, platforms, transformations, curriculum and direction for the district that has been brought about ever since we got elected.”

Wagner said that, over all, he has been pleased with his experience on the school board and, like Medina, is glad to see fresh faces set on campaigning on behalf of the community and in alignment with 209 Together’s goals.

“The true work of being on the board of education is a wonderful experience,” Wagner said. “One of the things that has been really amazing about being on the board is that we’re out in the community, we’re meeting people, and then people see change is really possible and actually happening. There’s a transformation in our school district going on.”

However, Wagner reiterated that, while he and his former campaign partners continue to work together with community outreach and frequently voting opposite the current board majority, 209 Together is not an entity separate from the district.

“I want to make clear that we’re not a political party,” he said.

Medina has high hopes for Alexander, Grant, Patterson and Valtierrez, saying they have been closely following 209 Together’s mission to strive for district excellence and would be great assets to the district.

“These are all people who know what’s going on, have been following us for a few years and want to come on board to continue driving transformation for Proviso because it will change the greater community,” she said.

Aside from Adams, Cross and McKelvy, board member Kevin McDermott is also up for re-election in April. However, as of press time, he has not submitted petitions to campaign to keep his seat.

Adams, Cross, McKelvy and McDermott did not respond to the Forest Park Review’s requests for comment. 

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