This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
LWV League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area Education Fund

Smart Voter
Hamilton County, OH November 6, 2007 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Board Member; Sycamore Community School District

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Qualifications, Addressing priorities, Funding

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

1. What are your qualifications for office? (50 word limit)

Answer from Julie B. (Bernsen) Brook:

I have a BAUP and MBA in Finance and Human Resource Management. My work experience includes Real Estate Finance, Management Consultant, and Substitute Teacher. I was appointed to a private School Board, Board of the Sycamore Flying Fish, and the Blue Ash BOSA-BOZA. Volunteer positions: Girl Scouts, room-mother, and PTA/PTO.

Answer from Jill S. Cole:

I have held numerous volunteer leadership positions over the 20 years we've had our five children in Sycamore, including PTO president four years. I am known and trusted by parents, staff and administration. My business experience in banking, accounting, communication and management will serve the district well. See

Answer from Ken Richter:

My success in leading profitable organizations around the world for Avon Products uniquely prepared me to transfer applicable team building approaches to current board work for the Sycamore School District. Over the past four years my expertise has been enhanced through various training opportunities by the Ohio School Boards Association.

2. What plans do you have to address your top three priorities? (100 word limit)

Answer from Julie B. (Bernsen) Brook:

My three priorities represent three sides of a tripod. Without each side, the other two will be unable to stand alone. If elected I will represent the District Taxpayer (side 1). My responsibilities will include communicating Taxpayer philosophies to the Sycamore Administration, Teachers and Staff. In turn, it will be imperative that I communicate to the Taxpayers the requirements of supporting an effective and efficient school system (side 2). Through communication of true facts and by educating each other, we can work together for our common goal of ensuring every Sycamore student receives an "Excellent" education (side 3).

Answer from Ken Richter:

Build and Enhance District Relationships Since taking my "Oath of Office" in January 2004, my efforts have been and will be to get every employee to understand that all of us Serve the Whole Community and Its Children. Recognize "TEAM SYCAMORE" as a team of residents, parents, teachers, administrators and board members.

Execute "Our Contract with the Community" Maintain our capped expense level and continue to discuss, monitor and exhibit our spending trend lines.

Transfer Relevant Business Expertise to the District Serve committees such as Health Care, Executive Advisory and the Diversity Council to ensure engagement and education of staff.

Answer from Jill S. Cole:

Our excellent rating must continue, and will require us to look closely at weak areas and institute programs as needed so that all children develop to their full potential. Our current financial results and future needs should be reported regularly to our stakeholders, in clear and understandable ways. We need to continue to earn the trust and respect from those we serve through sound decision-making in finances. Programming decisions need to be based on sound research with accountability for results. We must strive to involve our community in the schools through open dialogue.

3. What is your position on amending the Ohio Constitution with regard to the funding of public schools? (150 word limit)?

Answer from Julie B. (Bernsen) Brook:

School funding relies heavily upon the wealth and generosity of district residents through self-imposed levies. Beginning in 1991, the constitutionality of Ohio's school funding was challenged, and demands were placed upon the state to revamp the current system thus spawning a movement calling for "equity in education". Proponents demand that Ohio equalize state-wide per pupil expenditures (PPE) falsely believing that equalizing will result in higher state-wide PPE's. In fact, research has shown that school finance equalization result in lower state-wide PPE's, increased private school enrollment, and lower home values.

Any amendments to the Ohio Constitution must ensure that thriving school districts will not be negatively affected. Sycamore has worked diligently to develop an education system that is effective and efficient. If elected it will be my responsibility to educate district taxpayers on the importance of guaranteeing that amendments to the Ohio Constitution improve impoverished districts but not devastate our own.

Answer from Jill S. Cole:

School funding in Ohio has long been a problem: one without any obvious solution. The current proposed constitutional amendment presents areas of concern and leaves many questions about how it would be implemented. Chiefly, I am concerned that communities would lose local control over local decision-making about schools. We would not be able to determine the level of education we feel would prepare our children for success beyond school, either in the workplace or as they seek additional education. The specifics of funding are unclear. I am also concerned about the creation of a new layer of bureaucracy. The plan as proposed was reached out of compromise, and is not necessarily the one that will serve the children of the State of Ohio. Perhaps as work continues on this plan, and questions are answered, more support can be generated. Otherwise, a new more effective plan will need to be developed.

Answer from Ken Richter:

There is no doubt that many are frustrated by school financing in Ohio and have attempted to find the solution in a Constitutional Amendment which they euphemistically labeled "Getting it Right for Ohio". This effort has been led by the Ohio School Boards Association to which I am a proud member. Since November of 2006, I have tracked the OSBA and their efforts to gain signatures and to use logic of just "trust us" and we will fix school funding with a Constitutional Amendment.

The OSBA cause is noble and there is also no doubt that some reform is needed. However, what is the cost in taxpayer dollars and cost in fundamental democratic freedoms? Limited space does not allow me to elaborate at length, but here are two primary concerns: Do we need more layers of bureaucracy in Columbus? How much funding do they say is the correct level?

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits apply for each question. Direct references to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

This Contest || Home (Ballot Lookup) || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: December 19, 2007 17:42 PST
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.