Five candidates running for Mentor Exempted Village School District school board

Christine Henninger, Rose Ioppolo, Lauren Marchaza, Gil Martello, and Lyndsie Wall are running in the nonpartisan general election for Mentor Exempted Village School District school board in Ohio on Nov. 7, 2023. Two at-large seats are up for election in the district.

Issues in the race include curriculum content, prohibiting certain books in school libraries, and policies relating to transgender students. The 1776 Project PAC, which describes itself as “committed to abolishing critical race theory and ‘The 1619 Project’ from the public school curriculum,” endorsed Ioppolo and Martello. According to News 5 Cleveland, objections to certain books in school libraries have been part of an “ongoing debate over what belongs on school library shelves, which has dominated public comment periods at school board meetings and prompted concerned citizens to seek elected office.” In March of 2023, the Mentor City School Board defeated a resolution supporting the Ohio Board of Education’s opposition to proposed changes to Title IX regarding protections for transgender students.

Henninger is a business support manager for Hub Plastics, a plastic bottle manufacturer. Henninger said her top priority would be “working together as a team by being respectful of another’s perspective, being open minded and learning to compromise in order to meet the current and future mental, emotional, social, and academic needs of our students, families, and teachers.”

Ioppolo worked in sales and marketing for Sony Music Distribution and Radio Disney and as a substitute teacher. Ioppolo said she is running “because, as a parent of four children- three still in the district, I’m deeply invested in the growth and prosperity of our schools and our community. If elected, I vow to restore the communities’ confidence in our school board. I will work with the board to adopt policy that is aimed at improving academic scores, which is priority number one.”

Marchaza worked as a director and editor of publications at Case Western Reserve University. Marchaza said, “Mentor Public Schools have always been known for their quality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mentor school district faces serious challenges that can only be solved through collaboration and dialogue.”

Martello worked as a senior engineering manager at a critical component manufacturer. Martello said he supports “confirming that school staff remain neutral when discussing historical or political topics,” and “establishing separate restroom and locker room use based on the biological sex of the individual.” Martello said he “would advocate for policy that once again returns value to the taxpayer, parents, teachers and students alike.”

Wall worked as regional director of Defense of Democracy, a national nonprofit focused on education. Wall said she believes “everyone also has a right to a transparent public school system. Above all, I will work to ensure the transparency that is essential to the relationship between public schools and the community.”

There were 7,429 students enrolled in 13 schools across the district as of the 2021-2022 school year.