FRANCONIA — Five people are on the primary election ballot in this year's election for four four-year seats on the Souderton Area School Board.

They are William J. Brong, Janet Flisak, Andrew D. Landis, Stephen Nelson and Scott P. Swindells.

School board members are allowed to cross-file on both party ballots in the primary, which all five candidates did. The top four vote-getters from each party in the May 18 primary election will be on the ballot in November.

Each of the candidates was sent the following questions for this article:

Describe your background and qualifications for school board or municipal council (200 words)

Why are you running for this office? (300 words)

Please list your campaign website, social media pages, and/or anywhere else our readers can find you.

William J. Brong

Describe your background and qualifications:

"Revitalizing the trades and launching kids into successful careers”

In addition to my incredible track record as “the grandpop” of Souderton Youth Wrestling, I bring 40 years of construction expertise to make every building project a calculated, long-term investment.

I am a carpenter by trade, I have worked for 40 years in the construction industry with 15 of those years as the owner of VonBrong Builders. For the past 16 years I have served on the Souderton School Board with 15 of those years serving as the chairperson for the board’s operations committee. I have been heavily involved with all the construction projects that the district has completed over the past decade, stating, “Our experienced School Board will continue to meet the challenge of maintaining the lowest possible tax burden while providing the highest quality educational programs.” My wife Lesa and I have 2 children, both graduates of SASD. For 16 years I have served on the North Montco Career Technical Center Board with 14 of those years serving as president. I have been committed to revitalizing the trades and giving kids successful businesses with zero college debt. I have been a wrestling coach for 36 years -- president for Souderton youth wrestling for 26, and president of East Penn wrestling league for 12. I often say, “I might not have grandkids yet, but every year I have 22 kids I get to be ‘grandpop’ for.”

I have a big heart and a vital skill set that I bring to the Souderton School Board and would be honored to continue my service to our community through a 5th term.

Why are you running for this office?

As a 16-year member of the Souderton School Board, I have seen first-hand the difference you can make in the community when devoting your time and energy into the kids, teachers, and families. I have seen how vital my work has been through overseeing the construction projects within the district and mentoring kids through Vo-tech and wrestling programs. This is what makes me passionate about the education system in Souderton, and it is why I want to continue my service on the Souderton School Board.

Please list your campaign website, social media pages, and/or anywhere else our readers can find you.

website: www.keepsoudystrong.com

email: blbrong@gmail.com

Janet Flisak 

Describe your background and qualifications:

I have been on the board for two terms and hope to continue for another. I am the chair of the Policy committee, a member of the Operations committee, and Souderton's Board Director liaison with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. It has been a great experience working beside and with our teachers, principals, and school administrators. The best part about board participation is seeing the growth of our students as they journey through their classes and extra curricular activities. Because I have this previous experience of serving on the board the Souderton Community, and the voters can see, that we put them and their families first. I work in the private sector with a small biotech in clinical development and manage clinical studies around the world. I am the proud parent of four children, the youngest being a Souderton graduate who has a PhD in Chemistry. I believe in the high integrity of our Souderton community not only in student education, but also in the value of investing in the character of our students.

Why are you running for this office?  

I have a heartfelt desire to continue to contribute to my community with active participation in the successful education of our students who are the future of America. In these formative years the students are developing the skills and competencies to make them successful in life. In Souderton, it is the heart, knowledge, and passion for student instruction and education embraced by our educators, administrators, and school board directors that makes us successful. I want to keep that passion here in Souderton which is why I am eager to serve a third term on the school board.

Please list your campaign website, social media pages, and/or anywhere else our readers can find you.

Keep Soudy Strong

Andrew D. Landis

Describe your background and qualifications:

I have over 15 years’ experience on various boards, including officer positions (President, Hands In Service, Treasurer,Keystone Opportunity Center). I have also been actively involved in the community for most of my life, serving at my church, volunteering for a number of non-profit organizations, and coaching baseball in Harleysville for nine years. Professionally, I have been with Univest Bank and Trust Co for over 23 years. As part of the Commercial Lending Group, I have reviewed the financial statements and budgets of hundreds of small businesses and non-profits over the years, while working with them to meet their financial goals. My financial background, combined with my time on boards developing and then work within budgets, provides me with what I feel is a unique perspective when it comes to the sense of fiduciary responsibility I will bring to the board.

Aside from my professional experience and qualifications, I have been a part of this community my entire life. I was born and raised in Harleysville, graduated from Souderton in 1992, and my wife and I now reside in Salford Township. I now have two kids of my own who have gone through Souderton and shared the same positive experiences I had 30 years ago. I bring not only a strong financial background to the board, but I have also lived the Souderton experience as a student, parent, and tax payer.

Why are you running for this office?

Souderton has always been a great school district, which not only benefits the students it serves but also enriches the entire community, making the district a highly desirable place to live and work. Growing up here and having my kids go through Souderton schools makes me proud of what we have here. Now that my youngest is graduating this spring and my commitments to baseball and horse shows have waned, I am looking for new opportunities to give back to my community. Being born and raised in Souderton, I feel my appreciation of the region and my understanding of our community gives me the ability to represent our students, parents and teachers in a unique way.

Please list your campaign website, social media pages, and/or anywhere else our readers can find you.

www.keepsoudystrong.com

Stephen Nelson 

Describe your background and qualifications

Bio: Stephen Nelson is part owner of H&K Group, Inc. and works as the director for Risk, Safety, and Human Resource. Stephen started with the company in 1987 and worked as the CFO from 2002-2010. He has already served one 4-year term on the SASD School Board. Stephen’s private sector skill set allowed our schools to fully re-open for full-time, in-person education in September 2020, while keeping safety guidelines for all students, teachers, and staff on the forefront. Stephen has coached baseball in Harleysville and has served his church as a youth leader, elder, and deacon. He has served many positions within the Associated Builders and Contractors, including president in 2000 and 7 years on the board of directors. In addition, Stephen has served 4 years on the board of directors for the Penn Foundation. As an ‘84 graduate of Lebanon Valley College, he later served as a trustee on the Advancement Committee and on the Academic, Student Affairs, and Enrollment Committee. Stephen deeply values his role on the Souderton school board and desires to continue serving the students, teachers, and families of this community by winning re-election to a second term.

Why are you running for this office? 

After serving on the Souderton School Board for one term now, I have seen the impact we have made on students, teachers, and families as we come together as a team to serve our community and represent their needs. I was taught by my parents that if you are given a skill, you must use that skill to help others. I’m so grateful I was able to use my expertise in risk and safety as a guide to the re-opening process of our schools this past year. Stephen brought his private sector experience with CDC guidelines vs. mandates to the board this past year, helping Souderton schools to re-open for full-time, in-person education!

I’ve seen how valuable this work is and that is why I hope to continue on the school board for a second term.

“Working as a TEAM to get the job done”

Please list your campaign website, social media pages, and/or anywhere else our readers can find you.

www.keepsoudystrong.com

Scott P. Swindells

Describe your background and qualifications

I am a resident of Lower Salford, where I live with my wife, Sarah, and our two children, AJ and Penelope. We have been residents here for 16 years, and one major reason we bought our home was because we wanted to raise children in SASD. Salford Hills was an amazing elementary experience for our kids. The teachers, staff, and administrators became like family to us. We loved our years there, and we’ve already been impressed with our experience at Indian Valley Middle School as well, where we have found talented teachers who put students first.

In addition to being a parent, I am a teacher with 20 years in education. I spent five years in the middle of my career on special assignment as a learning coordinator and tech integration coach. During this time, I oversaw curricular budget lines for several departments for my district. I also coached faculty and staff in all 18 of the district’s buildings, from grades K-12, training close to 900 different teachers, staff, or administrators over the years. I went “forward” to the classroom in 2013 and I’ve been teaching again ever since. I teach English 10-12, Creative Writing, VHS, and I still help with technology integration, facilitating sessions on in-service days.

Why are you running for this office?

I am running to give a voice on the board to teachers, parents, students, and community members. The board currently consists of dedicated, hardworking individuals who work well together, but are also very similar to each other in their careers, interests, and perspectives, which seems to have informed their priorities as board members. As a result, there is a widespread perception in our district that the board does not welcome communication with all stakeholders in our district, and operates without listening to diverse voices.

As I considered a run for school board, I spoke with current students, recent graduates, teachers and support staff, as well as fellow parents in the many community activities in which my family is involved, such as swim, baseball, scouts, church, etc. I’ve also met with residents who have no children in the schools, or whose children have graduated, and seniors who have grandchildren in SASD. In so many conversations around our community, I hear the areas where our school board could use the most improvement are in their transparency, communication, and planning. These are areas where my decades of experience teaching in public schools can help. I have a lot of respect for our board members. They are volunteers who acted as school directors in one of the most difficult times in recent memory, navigating the covid-19 pandemic. However, I wouldn’t be running if there weren’t some things I know I could improve.

I’d like to see our district form an equity action plan, ensure IEP and GIEP students are not overlooked in curricular decisions, renovate some of our aging infrastructure, streamline our technology and communication, and bring more support staff into our decision making. Since I’ve always wanted to get involved and give back to the community, running to join this school board and offer the perspective of my experience seems like the perfect fit. I hope you’ll agree, and vote Swindells for School Board on May 18.

Please list your campaign website, social media pages, and/or anywhere else our readers can find you.

Campaign website: www.swindellsforschoolboard.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/swindellsforschoolboard

FB Group: www.facebook.com/groups/714093132638253

#swindellsforschoolboard.com

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