Albion High Schooler among candidates for Board of Education

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Dylan Hellems said he would be a voice for students

Photo by Tom Rivers – Dylan Hellems speaks about his candidacy for the Board of Education during a forum Tuesday at the LGI room at the high school. Hellems is one of four candidates for one open seat on the Board of Education.

ALBION – The election on Tuesday for the Albion Board of Education includes four candidates seeking one open seat, a five-year term on a nine-member board.

One of the candidates is a high school senior. Dylan Hellems, 18, said he would bring a student’s insight to the BOE, as well as a passion to make a difference in the community.

Hellems will be on the ballot with three other candidates: Steven LaLonde, Kevin Doherty and Anitrice Riley.

Albion had a high school senior win a BOE election in the late 1990s, when Dan Bellor was elected to a five-year term.

In Buffalo, Austin Harig last week nearly defeated Carl Paladino, a multi-millionaire and Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2010. Harig, 18, lost to Paladino by 132 votes for a seat on the Buffalo School Board.

Hellems thanked the other Albion candidates for their community service during a forum on Tuesday, when school officials discussed the district’s proposed budget and other propositions that go before voters on Tuesday.

Hellems said he has had a good experience at Albion Central School, with a week-long trip to Washington, DC as the highlight.

He went to the nation’s capitol with the Close-Up program at Albion High School in late February-early March. That trip fueled a desire to be involved politically. On the Close-Up trip, Helllems met two Albion graduates who work full-time in D.C.

Don Sisson works in the White House as a special assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. He also worked 10 years for Rep. Louise Slaughter of Rochester.

Sarah Brown Dirkes is the director of External Relations at American Farm Bureau Federation.

Hellems was impressed to see two people from a small town having an impact in DC.

“I want to make a difference,” he said after a public hearing Tuesday on the school budget. “I want to pursue politics and this will be a great place to start.”

Hellems will major in general studies this fall when he starts at Genesee Community College.

Hellems said he is pursuing the volunteer position on the Board of Education to inspire more high school students and recent grads to be involved in local government.

In terms of specific issues, he said he doesn’t support banning books at the school because some topics may be considered too controversial. He also said he would like to see the district work towards a turf field that would require less maintenance and also could be a draw for athletic events.

Hellems will face three long-time district residents, incuding former Board of Education member Kevin Doherty, who is currently president of the Hoag Library Board of Trustees. Doherty runs his own communications company, and is a past superintnedent of the buildings and grounds depaetment at the school district. His six grown children are Albion graduates.

“We clearly have a good school district and what we’re looking to do as they say in 4-H is make it better,” Doherty said.

Steven LaLonde has a doctoral degree in statistics, measurement and evaluation from Syracuse Univeristy. He is a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. He and his late wife, Kathy, raised three children who graduated from Albion.

LaLonde said he wants to give back to the district that provided a quality education for his children. He said he tends to bring people together to develop common ground in working on issues.

Anitrice Riley is a 1993 graduate of Albion. She works as a senior tax servicing specialist. One of her three children has graduated from Albion, and she has two others in the district.

Riley said she wants to see the district work harder to reach students not involved in sports and extracurricular programs.

“Let’s make sure every child has the best access to education,” she said. “Some kids are losing their way.”

Voting on Tuesday will be from noon to 8 p.m. at the elementary school, conference room A.