NEWFANE -- Ken McFadden hopes he’ll soon have some company on the Newfane School Board.
After he was the only school director elected at Newfane Town Meeting earlier this month, McFadden lobbied for someone -- anyone -- to run for the board’s vacant seats in a special election.
He got his wish, as five people filed candidate petitions as of Thursday’s deadline. Now, they will compete for the two available board positions in a special election scheduled for May 6.
The situation, McFadden believes, presents a lesson on the importance of citizen participation in local government.
"I think it’s important to keep reminding people that they have a voice, and their vote does count," he said.
"I’m also concerned that, in today’s society, people just take it for granted that someone else will do the volunteering," McFadden added. "As you can see from the Newfane School District’s current predicament, sometimes you have to send out a plea of urgency to have people step up."
According to a ballot compiled by Newfane Town Clerk Gloria Cristelli, the May 6 vote will include three candidates vying to serve one year remaining on an unexpired three-year term: Tammy L. Mace, Laura Taylor and David VanPamelen.
Two others are competing to serve the two years remaining on another unexpired three-year term -- Luke Q. Stafford and Teresa Stores.
McFadden said an informational meeting on the vote has been scheduled for 6:45 p.m. May 1 at the town office. The Australian Ballot vote will follow on May 6, also at the town office.
He’s pushing for "record turnout," noting that contested races have been rare in the recent history of the town School Board.
"We haven’t had a three-way race for a position in the six years I’ve been on," McFadden said. "I don’t think we’ve had anybody opposed."
The regional NewBrook Elementary School is overseen by a joint Brookline-Newfane board that consists of the members of two other entities -- Newfane School Board and Brookline School Board.
Formerly, the Brookline board had three members and the Newfane board had five. But that changed at this year’s Newfane Town Meeting, as voters complied with a request to downsize the Newfane School Board to three seats.
The reason for the reduction, officials had said, was that there had been multiple vacancies on the board for years.
But a downsized board still didn’t equal a full board, as McFadden was the only name on the ballot for the remaining three available seats. There were write-ins, but no one garnered enough votes to be elected.
NewBrook-related business did not grind to a halt, as McFadden noted that "most of our stuff gets done at the joint board level." With three Brookline members and McFadden present, that constituted a quorum so that the joint board could function.
But Newfane-specific business -- including signing some documents and even electing officers -- couldn’t happen with just one board member.
"All I can do right now is pay the bills -- that’s it," McFadden said.
Also, the election results left Newfane with just one representative on the Windham Central Supervisory Union board.
"The most important thing to me is, we need to have our representation at the WCSU level," McFadden said.
So he is excited about the May 6 vote, and McFadden said it’s possible that the full slate of candidates means "more people are taking interest in the school board and educating our kids."
For future elections, McFadden said, "hopefully, we don’t have to do this again."
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.