Northwestern Press

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Voters pick four for NWL school board seats

Thursday, May 18, 2017 by DEBRA PALMIERI in Local News

Voters in the Northwestern Lehigh School District went to the polls Tuesday to pick four of six candidates to run for school board director seats in the November General Election.

All candidates cross-filed.

Marci Handwerk Piescienski came in at the top of the Democratic ticket bringing in an unofficial 433 votes for 21.38 percent of the votes cast.

Jim Warfel garnered an unofficial 404 votes for 19.95 percent of the vote.

Alan L. Rex garnered an unofficial 391 Democratic votes for 19.31 percent of the vote.

Incumbent Todd Hernandez received an unofficial 325 votes on the Democrat side for 16.05 percent of the vote.

On the Republican side of the ticket, Handwerk Piescienski also came in at the top with an unofficial 710 votes for 19.09 percent of the vote.

Coming in second was Rex with an unofficial 694 votes for 18.66 percent of the vote.

Hernandez in third place garnered an unofficial 693 votes for 18.63 percent of the vote.

Warfel received 681 unofficial votes for 18.31 percent of the vote.

A retired educator with experience as a special-education teacher and supervisor, Warfel was the first principal at Northwestern Lehigh Middle School.

An Army veteran who served in Vietnam, he earned a doctorate in special education administration from Temple University and a Master’s degree from the College of New Jersey.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from LaSalle University in 1971.

Warfel served as an adjunct professor holding faculty positions at Penn State and Lehigh University.

He is a member of the Lynn Heidelberg Historical Society and the Lehigh Valley Community Music School.

Warfel says schools need to offer a wide range of quality programs taking into account the community’s ability to pay.

He and his wife, Mary, who reside in New Tripoli, have two sons.

Handwerk Piescienski of Germansville is a 1988 graduate of Northwestern Lehigh and a 1993 graduate of Kutztown University, where she earned a BSBA in accounting.

This led to corporate accounting and payroll administration, and working as an assistant management coordinator.

She is active in Girls on the Run and Northwestern Elementary fitness, part of the Fit Kids Club.

At present, she is an instructional assistant at the middle school.

Handwerk Piescienski is an active board member of Sons of the Carpenter, a church activity that builds or repairs houses.

She has worked with Northwestern’s professional development and Act 48 committees.

Handwerk Piescienski says her activities give her an understanding of what’s new in education.

She has a daughter who graduated from Northwestern, two sons in the high school and a grandson attending Northwestern Elementary.

Hernandez of New Tripoli, who has lived in the school district since 1998, says he wants to give back to the community.

“First and foremost the board job pays well (zero), and I want to see that it goes in the right direction,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said as soon as his kids were old enough for school, his wife became a coaching assistant for softball, soccer, lacrosse and the field hockey program and is treasurer for the Northwestern Youth Athletic Association.

Hernandez feared it may be an ethics problem to participate but he helps out wherever needed as a cheerleader for the kids.

He said from a taxpayer’s standpoint, the premise of his belief is “you have to stand up and help.”

“If I want a voice I have to volunteer,” Hernandez said. “Schools are evolving. There has to be a happy equilibrium.”

Henandez said he takes an active part in executive sessions and at the committee-as-a-whole meetings where issues are vetted but not voted on.

The issues are discussed at the open board meetings where votes are taken.

Rex of Lynnport said during the campaign the environment in Washington, D.C., is not forgiving to public education.

“That means we have to be diligent on a local level,” Rex explained. “Policies from the state and Washington, D.C., have to be studied for how they affect local issues.

“If funding is pulled out of local schools, who will be left to educate the children?”

Rex has tried twice for open positions on the school board when a replacement was needed.

A vice president of the Mid Atlantic Division of Billitier Electric, which does work for Wegmans and Dorney Park, Rex serves on the Curriculum Steering Committee of Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, Schnecksville, to help ensure students will be able to obtain jobs when they graduate.