Candidates should learn to use spell check

By David Skolnick

Running for township trustee, mayor, or seats on council and school boards isn’t easy.

I have to give credit to those who run for these positions. They are largely thankless jobs, particularly those who are elected to school boards, and you have to make huge sacrifices.

I’m being complimentary because I don’t want any candidates to be mad at me.

This column shouldn’t be considered a personal attack on anyone, even those named below.

One responsibility I have as politics writer is to proof-read questionnaires filled out by candidates running for office. You can read the answers from candidates in selected races at ­—’s Election News section.

Those who read my columns and articles know spelling isn’t my area of expertise. This is the case even though I was among the final five students in Mrs. Vehrey’s 4th grade spelling bee at P.S. 60 in Staten Island, N.Y., over 30 years ago.

I understand that everyone makes mistakes. Everybody has those days.

You’re going to misspell a word every now and then.

For the most part, the candidates who submitted written responses do a respectable job. I’m not expecting brilliant insight. But candidates should be expected to check their spelling and give reasonable answers.

But as I was in 2007, I’m amazed at the number of candidates, including some long-time officeholders, who misspelled words or gave vague answers.

I have discovered that simple words as decisions, safety and experience are not that simple to some.

Two of the worst offenders were Warren council members Helen Rucker and Bob Dean, both D-at large.

Rucker misspelled experience, financial, administration, aggressively and combining [the last one twice] on her form. She also mentioned that she took labor studies classes in Ypsilanti, Mich., and spelled that city “Yepsalanti.” It’s a tough word, but if you’re touting classes taken there, you probably want to spell it correctly.

I had to spend some serious time with Dean’s to figure out what he wrote.

Dean misspelled department, initiatives, project, coincidentally, distinguished, awareness, eradication, recognized, signage and evident. And Bob, Toledo doesn’t have an A in it.

The form submitted by Martha Zarlenga, a Canfield trustee candidate who served 22 years on the school board, was such a mess that one of her daughters had to turn in a new one.

Campbell Mayor John Dill is a nice guy. But, Jack, the word is infrastructure and not “interstruction.”

Then there’s the clichés.

“I am a leader not a follower.” That one was courtesy of Anthony Bettile, a candidate for Canfield Township trustee.

Salem Councilman Clyde Brown, D-at large, had my personal favorite: “I wasn’t elected to make decisions for the people. I was elected to serve the people.”

Does this mean Brown doesn’t make a decision without first consulting “the people?”

Boardman Trustee Kathy Miller provides this gem: “Tough decisions are never easy.”

Numerous school board candidates go out on a limb.

All right, they’re not very long limbs.

Andrea Mahone, a Youngstown school board candidate, wrote: “We must put kids first.”

Better communication is another popular statement.

How one candidate believes he/she can improve communications in a school district is beyond logic.

But plenty of them contend they can do so.

I’ll protect the guilty parties here simply because there are way too many to mention.

Don’t forget that the candidates you vote for will work to bring financial stability and a common-sense approach to (fill in the name of a city, township, village or school board of your choice).

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