Election 2020

WATERVLIET — The race for seats on the Watervliet school board is somewhat unique this election.

No one filed to run for a partial term seat, while four people filed to run for three full-term, six-year seats.

Board president Bill Spaulding, who is one of the four candidates, said the board would have to appoint someone to the partial term seat after the election.

“The fourth highest vote getter, which could be me, will be invited to apply for the open board seat, but they wouldn’t automatically get it,” he said.

Spaulding said his assumption, in talking with the candidates, is that no one filed for the seat because filing to run for office was different this year due to COVID-19 precautions. Usually a clerk’s office employee would be able to coach the filer about all the seats that are open to run for, he said.

The Watervliet school board has appointed people to open board seats in the past. Spaulding said the board usually interviews all the candidates who apply.

The two openings for board members were created by Trustee Ted Tees retiring and Trustee Andy Dehaven resigning earlier this year.

Spaulding, a manager at Pepsi, has served on the board since 2004, and has served as president and vice president.

The other people running are incumbent Matthew Clay, as well as Kimberly Adams and Brian Gruszczyk.

Clay, the executive director of health services for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, has been on the school board since 2014, when he was appointed to fill a vacancy.

He serves as the board’s secretary, and also served as a Watervliet Township trustee for three years. He and his wife have five children in the school district.

Adams, who has lived in the district since 2007, said she’s running for a seat because she has three kids in the district and wants to be involved.

“Instead of just saying I want things to be changed, I thought, you might as well take action and be part of the solution,” she said. “I want to be a voice for our community.”

Adams is a mom, wife and full-time phlebotomist.

Gruszczyk, who works in the health care field as a large account manager, said he’s running because he wants to contribute to making the community a better place.

“I work with people of all walks of life from hospital CEOs to everyday people. I think having those experiences and bringing them to the board will be an asset in making a difference. There’s a lot of stuff we can work on and tackle,” he said.

While Gruszczyk has lived in the school district for the last five years. He was born and raised in the area and has an eighth-grader at Watervliet schools, along with a college student who graduated from Watervliet.

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman