Being a Geneva School Board member is arguably the toughest of all local elected positions, and being School Board president arguably the hotest of the seven hot seats.
No one knows that better than Mark Grosso, who officially took that position in February after fellow board member Tim Moran stepped down in January due to health issues.
At that time, Grosso was at the back end of his first term and stepped into what most folks might consider a hornets' nest of issues, ranging from longterm debt to teacher contract talks. Almost 10 months later, School District 304 has a three-year teachers contract in place, and Grosso says he's ready and willing to run again.
"Six months ago, I’d have said no," Grosso said during an interview Thursday at 318 Coffeehouse. "But having gone through the teachers negotiations, I think I’ve been able to contribute in a positive way to the School District and the people in the community, (so) I thought I would try for another term and use that experience and leadership to help the community go forward."
Grosso, known for his calm demeanor and common-sense approach to problem solving, is a retired, a 38-year employee of the the Chicago & NorthWestern and later Union Pacific Railroad who ran in 2009 long after his two children had graduated from Geneva High School.
He was a quiet contributor for the most part during his first term, but he made his presence known by voting three times against proposed tax levy hikes. That changed this year, when he voted for a 1.5 percent levy increase.
"It’s been a learning experience, and the reason I decided to run again is I’ve developed a better understanding of how the School District operates," Grosso said.
In the past year in particular, the Geneva TaxFACTS citizens group frequently has criticized the board, and some members have suggested that the citizens group might support a slate of candidates in the April election.
Four board seats will be open in the April elections cycle—positions now held by Grosso, Matt Henry, Bill Wilson and Tim Moran. Henry and Moran have indicated they would not seek another term.
Asked point blank if the "TaxFACTS factor" might have been an incentive to run again, Grosso said no.
"That didn’t weigh into my decision at all," he said. "I ran independently back in 2009, and to be honest I don’t intend to campaign very much this time around. I’ll go to whatever forums, but I’m not going to attack any groups or any individuals because of criticism or treatment. I need to run on my voting record."
Nomination petitions can be filed, starting Monday.
So far, two new potential candidates' names have popped up: Eagle Brook resident Dave Lamb and Naperville teacher and Geneva resident Jeff Diorio. TaxFACTS member Sandra Ellis has said she is not running for a School Board seat. TaxFACTS co-founder Bob McQuillan said he plans to run for Geneva mayor in the April election.
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