The all-important Wilkes-Barre School Board election

Deciding on who gets the jobs—is your child eligible?

Ten candidates are running in the Republican and Democratic May 21st Primary Election for four open four-year seats on the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board. They are Leonard Cornish, Joe Caffrey, Joe Bernardo, Kathy Grinaway, James O’Meara, Anthony Thomas, Barry Matthews, Denise Thomas, Christine Katsock, and Ned Evans. Eight of the candidates have cross-filed on both tickets, as is customary in school director races, with Anthony Thomas appearing only on the Democratic slate and O’Meara populating only the Republican. Independent and third-party candidates wishing to appear on the November ballot will need to collect 137 valid signatures and submit them to county Voter Services by 5 pm, August 1st.

According to Marisa Crispella, Director of the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections and Registrations, the last day to have registered either Republican or Democrat and be eligible to vote in the May 21st Primary was April 22nd of this year.

The Gazette reached out to the candidates seeking this often overlooked but extremely important elected position, and this is what some of them had to share.
“I am a semi-retired businessman. For years I have complained about high taxes and the ranking of our schools in the state. I decided to stop complaining and to try to do something about it. It is a shame that an 85 year old widow has to worry about losing her house, after paying on a mortgage for 30 years, because she has to decide whether to pay her school taxes or her utilities. We have to keep businesses and people from moving from the area. We can’t keep raising taxes,” wrote Joe Bernardo.

He continued, “All five of my children graduated from Meyers High School. Back then, our schools had a very good ranking in the state. Recently, that ranking has deteriorated. We need to find out why and what can we do to correct it. I feel that the school administrators need to start paying for a portion of their health care costs. We need to stop cutting school programs because of funding. This is one of the solutions to keep these programs active.” Mr. Bernardo can be reached at .

James O’Meara told us, “The board needs common sense and someone who will work with people. I am that person. I will not raise taxes. I will not vote on any new hires until a strict nepotism policy is in place; this is absolutely imperative. Odd-year elections are so important because they control your wallet.” He urged anyone who wants to know more about him or his campaign to contact him directly at or at 570-417-9518.

Leonard Cornish, a Vietnam veteran, graduate of Coughlin High School, and Penn State grad had this to say: “For several years, I have been a frequent attendee at Wilkes-Barre School Board meetings, and have followed with astonishment the numerous reported incidents that have inflicted a severe wound to dignity, honor and trust in the system. I truly believe that We Can and Must do better.
“Our schools from the classrooms, to our buildings, to even our stadium, no longer resemble the schools many of us attended. We can no longer continue the status quo. We can no longer continue to operate our school system under the guise of That’s the way it’s always been or We’ve never done it that way.” You can reach Len Cornish at .

And this comes from Kathy Grinaway: “If elected, I plan to restore the trust of the citizens of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District by listening and voting for an agenda based on what is right, not what is in my best interests. There are many wonderful teachers, students, and parents, and with the proper leadership the Wilkes-Barre students will have a bright future.” Look for Kathy’s community page on Facebook.

Marisa Crispell also wanted to remind the voting public that Primary Election poll workers will be REQUIRED to ask for voters’ photo identification, but that voters are NOT REQUIRED to produce ID in order to vote.

  • Louis R. Jasikoff
  • Lou is the founder and producer of the WBIG family of publications. He's been active in politics most of his adult life, and is passionate in building the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Independent Gazette into an independent press organization that is respected for its independent journalism, educating the public on stories and issues often not discussed in today's biased and controlled media.

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