PERKIOMEN >> A new member was appointed to the Perkiomen Valley School Board Tuesday night — but not before the board president, who was rejected by the voters and said he would not apply for the post, nonetheless resigned at his last meeting and asked to be appointed to fill the vacancy.
Ultimately, after the crowd at the meeting in the high school library “called out their disapproval,” Rich Bouher withdrew his candidacy and the board appointed Sarah Evans-Brockett to the seat, the term for which ends Dec. 2, 2019, according to the school district’s Twitter feed.
Evans-Brockett will replace Ann Mantey, who resigned at the Nov. 13 board meeting, six days after the Nov. 7 election in which Bouher was ousted by voters.
At the time of her resignation, there was widespread speculation that Bouher would himself resign and seek to obtain what the voters had denied him — more time on the school board.
However, he told a Digital First Media reporter on Nov. 14 that he had “no intention whatsoever” of applying to fill the seat.
Nevertheless, when the eight candidates who had applied for the seat were announced, Bouher’s name was among them.
Bouher told Digital First Media Wednesday that after the article about the board vacancy was published, “the other candidates I ran with approached me and asked me to apply.”
One of those running mates, Rachael Charyna, who also lost her reelection bid, joined board vice president Gerry Barnefiher, and Richard Flynn in voting to return Bouher to a board from which voters had ousted him, according to Tweets from the meeting.
But the three other remaining board members had other ideas.
Bouher acknowledged that the “100 or so people, union members and Democrats who showed up to throw politics into a non-partisan position” did not seem to support his attempt to remain on the board.
Three of the candidates who won the election — Judy Lofton, Wayde Weston and Eugene Halus, attended the meeting and Weston joined with seven other speakers and board member Lynn Bigelow in requesting that the appointment be delayed and made by the board constituted with the newly elected board members.
But Bigelow’s motion to delay the vote — which died for lack of a second — was equally as ineffective as those requests from the audience.
“The electoral process is one we all need to respect. (I) feel like what we’re doing tonight is not respectful of that,” one Collegeville resident said according to a district Tweet.
“The voters spoke their choice,” a Perkiomen Township resident said according to a Tweet. “(We) would like board to recognize that tonight. We would like you to allow new board to come in and make this decision.”
“We teach our students about democracy,” said one Trappe resident. “Please keep that in mind as you make your decisions.”
“This is a challenge for all. There is nothing being done here that statute doesn’t allow for,” said Barnefiher said, who at times struggled to maintain control of the meeting, according to the district’s Tweets.
In addition to Bouher and Evans-Brockett, the other six candidates for the open seat were Sarah Calvin, Henry Min, Rosaleen Oskanian, Nsharin “Nikki” Ricketts, John McBride and Gary Hoffmann.
After the candidates were identified, the board subsequently accepted the resignation of Bouher and began to question the candidates.
After the first round of questions, there were three votes for Bouher, one for Evans-Brockett, one for Oskanian and one for McBridge, and the other applicants withdrew.
Another round of questions and another vote narrowed the choice to two, Bouher and Evans-Brockett, but that vote tied 3-3.
According to the district’s Twitter account, Bouher then said “I’m going to make it easy. I’m going to withdraw my name,” which left the board free to appoint and swear in Evans-Brockett, which won applause from the audience.
After she was sworn in, a Perkiomen Township resident said “this was an absolute barn fire. Timing of resignation and re-vote were suspect,” according to a district Tweet. “I would ask you to consider revising procedures so this never happens again.”
The new board members chosen by the voters will be sworn in at the next meeting on Dec. 4, at which point new board officers will be elected as well.
On Wednesday, Bouher told Digital First Media he would “never” seek public office again.