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Former Franklin football coach one of three new school board candidates

Greg Husband, of Franklin, N.H., the coach of the New Hampshire team, is seen during a practice session for the Shrine Bowl 2009 at the Kimball Union Academy football field in Meriden, N.H., on Friday, July 24, 2009.
Valley News - Jakob M. Berr

Greg Husband, of Franklin, N.H., the coach of the New Hampshire team, is seen during a practice session for the Shrine Bowl 2009 at the Kimball Union Academy football field in Meriden, N.H., on Friday, July 24, 2009. Valley News - Jakob M. Berr

Three of the Franklin school board’s nine members are not seeking re-election this fall, including Chairman Ray Yonaitis. And if no write-in campaigns are waged, one of those open spots will be filled by former football coach Greg Husband, whose firing last spring sparked public backlash against the school board.

“I think we need transparency in the school board, and I think we need a school board that’s open to the public,” Husband said.

Husband’s firing also resulted in a citizen petition calling for the removal of Yonaitis from office. But Yonaitis said yesterday he made clear as early as January that he wouldn’t seek another term because his last child graduated from Franklin this year.

Candidates for Franklin’s school board, city council and mayor had to declare their candidacy as of last Friday. Mayor Ken Merrifield is uncontested in his bid for a fourth term. Four school board and four city council seats are also up for re-election. Of those eight, only one is contested: School board member Steve Barton is challenging Paul Trudel for his seat on the city council. Election Day is Oct. 1.

Timothy Dow is running for Barton’s vacant school board seat, Angie Carey is running for Yonaitis’s seat and Husband is running for Karen Grzelak’s seat. Grzelak agreed last year to fill a one-year vacancy and said she had no intention of running again. Chad Carey, who was appointed to the board by the city council earlier this year, is also running for re-election. (He is not related to Angie Carey.) Councilors Ted Starkweather, Tony Giunta and Doug Boyd are all seeking re-election.

Barton has been on the school board for 12 years and said he had planned to one day run for city council. He said he’s running to enhance the reputation of Franklin and thinks with his knowledge of the school board he can improve relations between both groups.

I “always said I’d run for city council someday. I figured now is a good time to try,” he said.

Trudel, whom Barton is running against, is in his first term as a city councilor. He serves on the city-school liaison committee and originally suggested the board and council sit down for a meeting, which happened in July. The liaison committee has also suggested the two groups meet at least twice a year. He said he also enjoys serving the city.

Write-in candidates have won in Franklin before – including school board member Tamara Feener, who won a seat on the board last fall – meaning it’s possible the uncontested candidates could later be challenged.

Merrifield said he thinks the city will have an easier time working with the next school board, provided all three new candidates win those seats. The board and council have repeatedly sparred over finances and went to court over citizen petitions to remove Yonaitis and board member Kathleen Russo. After a public hearing where residents aired grievances against the board and Superintendent Maureen Ward, the council decided to send a transcript of the hearing to the attorney general’s office. The council voted not to begin removal proceedings for Yonaitis and Russo, as a superior court judge had said the council would likely be acting illegally.

“I think that the relationship is probably going to improve quite a bit between the council and the school board,” Merrifield said.

Dow and Angie Carey could not be reached for comment, but Merrifield said both are active boosters for school sports.

For his part, Merrifield said he’s seeking a fourth term because he wants to continue leading the city on certain projects, including Northern Pass. If the project is approved, Franklin will be the home of a converter terminal that will change the power coming from Hydro-Quebec in Canada into electricity to be distributed to the New England electric grid. The project would give a major boost to the city’s tax base, and Merrifield has been a vocal supporter of the project.

“I think I’ve got some skills and talents that I bring to that effort, so I’d like to continue helping the project and the city succeed,” he said.

Correction: The original version of this article misstated the day of the elections. Elections are Oct. 1.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

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