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October 23, 2009

 

Teacher and reporter seeks Canton School Board seat

Canton--Eric Resnick, a former teacher and current staff reporter for the Gay People’s Chronicle, is vying to be an at-large member of the Canton School Board.

In June 2008, Resnick was one of several candidates seeking appointment to fill a school board vacancy.

During that process, he was asked by a board member if he would run for a seat if he were not appointed.

“I might,” he replied.

Within months, as he attended more school board meetings, “I might” became “I will,” Resnick says.

He has now completed the Ohio School Boards Association board member training, giving him a greater knowledge of the mechanics of running the school district.

He is facing the incumbent, Ron Duff, and William Smith in the November 3 election. Early voting has already begun.

Besides his work at the Chronicle, Resnick testified in front of both the Ohio House and Senate’s education committees for anti-bullying laws that include LGBT students.

In his responses to a questionnaire from the Parents and Professionals Commission of Ohio, a non-partisan group that issues a guide to candidates’ positions, Resnick expressed most fully his pro-gay beliefs, as well as his opposition to abstinence-only education and including “intelligent design” in science classes.

He received the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Pathfinder Award in 2005.

But his primary focus is on the economics of the school district, which faces up to a $1 million shortfall in a potential state budget correction.

“That’s roughly an elementary building,” he wrote on another questionnaire.

In a school district with a 28% poverty rate like Canton’s, Resnick believes the only way to make sure of the city’s economic future is to ensure the proper education of its students. This includes paying special attention to homeless or transient students, those with nutritional and clothing needs, and those who just need a little extra help to make it through.

He also argues against cutting money for athletics and extracurricular activities, adding that these are the very things that, for some students, mean the difference between graduating and dropping out.

Resnick wants to put a school levy before voters, believing that they will care enough about the future of their children to pass it. The current school board, he argues, is banking on revenue from video slot machines at racetracks, a possibility that won’t be decided until the 2010 election.

“If you believe that our students deserve hope, and that our community needs the benefits and life quality that good schools produce, this course of action is the only moral choice,” he argues.

Resnick tells a story about how voters identify him with the levy idea, and how being gay has become a non-issue for candidates since he ran for Congress in 1996.

“Saturday night I was at a fundraiser at St. Mary's Catholic Church, an old inner-city parish south of downtown Canton. I introduced myself to a woman, late 70s, early 80s, white, platinum hair.”

“When she learned who I was, she said, ‘You're the levy guy! I already voted for you [absentee].’ ”

The candidate says that a similar voter would have come up to him in 1996 and said, “You're the gay guy.” News coverage also reflected this.

“Every piece written about me [in 1996] no matter what it was, had ‘gay’ in the lead. Somewhere along the line, that novelty of gay candidates wore off, and that is the news.”

He says that he is prepared to move the Canton City Schools from being a good district to a model one.

“I'm running because everyone the Canton City Schools touches has high expectations and the right to expect that their Board of Education will work hard to meet them. I'm running because I am ready to do that,” he says.

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