School board candidate drops out, supports opponent

NEW PALESTINE — Her name will be on the ballot in November’s general election as a candidate for the Community School Corp. of Southern Hancock County board, but Wendy Parish said she will be doing something unusual on Election Day — voting for her opponent.

Parish, 51, of New Palestine, has had a change of heart about becoming a school board member and is now supporting candidate Matt Ackerman, who was her only competition for the seat. The deadline has passed to remove Parish’s name from the ballot, but the only campaigning she’s doing now is for Ackerman.

After meeting with Ackerman, Parish said she determined he’s the person best-suited to replace outgoing board member Barb Snyder in District 1, she said.

Ackerman, 46, of New Palestine, was glad to hear the news, he said. Once he and Parish sat down and discussed their views on the school corporation, it became clear they both liked the direction the district is headed, he said.

They point to the corporation’s “A” accountability grade as evidence teachers and administrators in the district are on the right track. Parish wanted to make sure Ackerman wouldn’t come in and demand changes, she said.

Both candidates like the fact district officials put a high priority on paying teachers a higher-than-average salary and have a curriculum allowing students to take classes that are college- and career-focused.

Rather than battling each other, Parish suggested they join forces behind his bid.

“I was thrilled when she said she was going endorse me,” Ackerman said.

Parish’s endorsement includes putting a “Vote for Ackerman” sign in her front yard, Ackerman said.

Despite her change of heart, Parish’s name will still be on the ballot. The deadline has passed to have it removed.

If for some reason she were to get elected, Parish said she’d take the seat but for now is planning to do all she can to make sure Ackerman receives voters’ support.

“You just never know what is going to happen,” Parish said. “My goal is to make sure we have at least one conservative voice on the board who loves this community as much as I do.”

Parish, a businesswoman in the community for more than 30 years, has great name recognition in New Palestine, Ackerman said. He admitted he was going to have a tough battle beating Parish.

It was Parish who reached out to Ackerman and suggested they meet and discuss their views on local issues.

They found they both held the same core beliefs on many district topics such as student-teacher ratios, Ackerman said.

Parish came away from the meeting deciding it would be in voters’ best interest to elect Ackerman.

“There’s just no need to split the vote,” Parish said. “We both want the same thing.”

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.