Lakota Schools board member has early start to BOE campaign

One of the first candidates to announce a run for a seat on the sometimes contentious Lakota Local Schools board is an incumbent.

Three-term Lakota Board of Education member Julie Shaffer recently held a campaign kick-off event at a local wine bar, announcing she will seek a fourth consecutive term on the district’s governing board.

Shaffer is the first candidate to both publicly proclaim her candidacy for one of the two open seats to be decided on by voters in the Nov. 7 election and also file the required voters’ signature petition with the Butler County Board of Elections.

“I believe that this is a fight for the heart and soul of a district that has been a destination district for many years but is being harmed by extremism, politics and divisiveness,” said Shaffer.

“This election will be a decision by our community about what they want Lakota to represent in the future,” said the current board member and West Chester Twp. school parent, who was first elected to the public office in 2012.

Liberty Twp. resident Victor Santiago has also obtained a candidate’s petition from the board of elections but as of late last week had not filed it with election officials.

Shaffer has on occasion differed with fellow board member Darbi Boddy — as have other board members — since Boddy joined the board in January 2022.

Events since 2022 have shown the Lakota board race will be one that is highly watched by local residents. Usually school board candidates file for fall elections in summer months, after Memorial Day, with the deadline for filing in early August.

Last year Shaffer and three other board members voted to ask for Boddy’s resignation and publicly censured her.

The board also saw the resignation of Lakota’s superintendent since 2017 in January when Matt Miller announced he was taking a job with the Butler County Educational Service Center.

Lakota is Butler County’s most populous school system and the largest suburban district in southwest Ohio with 17,200 students attending 24 schools in West Chester and Liberty townships.

Shaffer said among her motivations in seeking re-election is her desire to address the problems of some of Lakota’s aging schools and learning spaces needing modernization.

“I believe our major issues are distractions that are getting in the way of focusing on moving the district forward to meet academic needs and making sure we continue to focus on the masters facilities plan. My top priority remains making decisions that benefit our students today and for years to come. With no other agenda but to ensure their success, I am committed to taking steps that will help all Lakota students and our district thrive.”

Fellow board member Kelley Casper backs Shaffer’s attempt for another four-year term.

“I believe it’s critical to choose a board member … who has demonstrated that they are focused on our number one priority - every student in Lakota. I have watched Julie make decisions that prioritize the success of our students, while balancing the needs of all stakeholders in the district,” said Casper.

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