A newly formed political party has announced its slate of candidates to run in next year’s Proviso Township High School District 209 school board elections.
Proviso 209 United, an extension of the grassroots group Proviso 209 Cooperative, revealed the three candidates they’ve chosen to run in the April 2023 election in a statement released July 22.
The three candidates include D209 parent Jenny Barbahen, Sandra Hixson and David Ocampo.
Barbahen, a Proviso East parent who lives in Forest Park, co-founded Proviso 209 Cooperative along with D209 parent Kathleen Franzwa.
The organization formed from a closed Facebook group that the two established last October, when Rodney Alexander, then the D209 school board president, decided not to live-stream and record that night’s school board meeting.
Franzwa and Barbahen announced in March that they would form a political action committee in order to seek candidates to run in next year’s election. They said the main reason they were prompted to jump into the political arena was complaints surrounding the job performance of Supt. James Henderson and the decisions of the current board majority.
“Proviso 209 United was founded in May 2022 to address multiple issues with the current board and superintendent, including lack of a safe environment for students and teachers, and failure to transparently share information with the public,” Proviso 209 United’s statement read.
In the July 22 statement, the organization said the three candidates, all of whom live in Proviso, were “chosen after an extensive interview process and will bring their passion for the district and its students to the board.”
Barbahen was co-chair of the Proviso East Action Team for Partnerships under former Proviso East Principal Dr. Patrick Hardy.
Hixson, a Maywood native and graduate of Proviso East, lives in Westchester and worked as a substitute teacher at Proviso West last school year. She also served on the Bellwood District 88 school board for four years.
Ocampo, who also lives in Westchester, is a data engineer with a global manufacturing company who would bring “his expertise in analyzing logistics and financial data to the D209 board to ensure fiscal responsibility is a district priority,” according to Proviso 209 United’s statement.
The three Proviso 209 United candidates are running for the three seats that will be open due to the expiring terms of incumbent board members Claudia Medina, Theresa Kelly and Ned Wagner.
Medina, Kelly and Wagner all ran on the Proviso Together slate, which officially disbanded earlier this year as tensions between board members intensified.