Berkely appointed to New Castle school board

Dr. Marilyn Berkely

The New Castle School Board is welcoming back a former member, but only for the next five months.

The board in a 7 to 1 vote at a special meeting Monday appointed Dr. Marilyn Berkely, an optometrist at Berkely Eye Associates, to the position left vacant when board member Norman Moses died on July 1.

A new board member will be elected to the position in the Nov. 9 general election and will be sworn into office at the board's reorganizational meeting the first Monday in December. Berkely will serve until then, and to date, is not a candidate in that election.

According to information from the Lawrence County elections office, the Democratic and Republican parties each will be asked to submit a name of a candidate to run for the unexpired seat, which expires in two more years.

Berkely is no newcomer to the school board. She previously had served eight years on the board until her second term expired in 2017 and she chose not to seek re-election.

Berkley was one of 10 city residents who submitted their names with letters of intent to the school district, who were interested in serving in Moses' seat.

"I wasn't going to do it but there are a lot of important things going on right now," she said, namely the budget. "I don't want to see taxes go up. I felt it was time to get on the board and do my thing and express my opinion and do what's right again.

"I'll do my best, and speak my piece," she said. "That's all I can do."

Board member Mark Panella cast the only dissenting vote to appoint her, saying at the meeting, "I'll pass," when it was his turn to vote. Asked after the meeting if his vote was an abstention or a no vote, he said he considered it a no vote, and that favored another candidate for the board seat.

The names of all of the applicants were read aloud at the public meeting. The board members each were asked to write down their top three picks from the list for the position. The names and the names for the nomination were counted by solicitor Charles Sapienza and business manager Joseph Ambrosini.

Berkely received six votes, the majority over any other candidate. The board then voted publicly to appoint her.

The other candidates vying for the seat were: Anthony Mastrangelo, the former mayor; David Joseph, a retired assistant city fire chief; Marco Bulisco, current New Castle firefighter; Eric Francis, city employee; Tim Thomas, interested resident; Gary Filippone, who runs the Jail to Jobs program in the Lawrence County District Attorney's office; Mitzila Hogans, interested resident; Erin Micco, interested resident; and Shawn Anderson, the city's code enforcement director.

Joseph and Anderson ran unsuccessful campaigns in the May primary and won't appear on the November ballot.

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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