HINSDALE — It’s come down to experience versus background in the race for school board at Hinsdale Township High School District 86.
Eight candidates are vying for four open seats, including Dennis Brennan, Victor Casini, Ed Corcoran, Kay Gallo, DeeDee Gorgol, Roger Kempa, Claudia Manley and Roseanne Rosenthal.
Two slates also have emerged in the race. The first, “Building on Excellence,” includes the incumbents — Brennan, Gallo and Gorgol — along with candidate Rosenthal. The second slate, “Friends for District 86,” includes Manley, Corcoran and Casini.
“Building’s” Gallo said she is proud of the district’s direction, especially with the hiring of Nicholas Wahl as superintendent. She added that it’s the work ethic and “student-centric mindset” that makes up the identity of her slate.
“I think with our slate, people have seen our track record of what we’ve done,” Gallo said. “With these new people, there’s really not a track record.”
However, Manley, representing the “Friends,” said she would like to see more transparency on the School Board and have residents more involved in making decisions.
“We would like to improve on community collaboration,” Manley said. “We would like to re-activate and re-energize the importance of the board through ... the committee structure.”
Fiscal responsibility also is a major issue in the race, Corcoran said. The “Friends” would like to introduce finance, tax and facilities committees and put community experts on them.
Gallo, meanwhile, stressed the importance of making sure information was readily available to the public.
“We need to make sure our website is a living thing, not something that becomes stale,” she said.
Gallo also said she hopes to be able to continue her work with the current board in making the two high schools “even better” than what they are now.
“The public knows I say what I mean, and I mean what I say,” Gallo said. “I follow it up, and I’ll be the first one to say I made a mistake if a mistake has been made, and I try to just be clear-headed and thoughtful. (Brennan) and (Gorgol) are the same way.”
If elected, Manley said reaching out to the community is one of her main goals.
“We need to go out there and we need to say them, ‘These are your schools; these are your students. You’re the taxpayers. We need to know what you want in the schools, and we’ll do it,” she said.
Candidates Brennan, Casini, Gorgol, Kempa and Rosenthal could not be reached for comment.
Early voting is now under way, and election day is April 9.