May 22


Who’s running for Buffalo school board

Two incumbents and at least four challengers are vying for three at-large seats that will be on the ballot in November. Three of the challengers are working together to make the ballot.
News and analysis by Geoff Kelly, Investigative Post's political reporter

Three at-large seats on Buffalo’s school board will be on the ballot this November.

Two incumbents, Larry Scott and Terrance Heard, are running for reelection. The other, Ann Rivera, won’t seek another five-year term.

So far there are at least four other candidates, three of whom are working together to make the ballot:

    • Ed Speidel, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council and a former co-chair of the district’s Special Education Parents Advisory Committee. He’s the parent of two current Buffalo Public Schools students. He recently held a meat raffle fundraiser at the South Buffalo Moose Lodge.

  • Raziya Hill, founder and executive director of Every Bottom Covered, a nonprofit that provides diapers and other goods to low-income families. Hill graduated from Villa Maria College last weekend with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Janita Everhart, a street team ambassador for 43North, the state-funded technology startup competition, and former program director for the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers. She’s the sister of Masten District Common Council Member Zeneta Everhart, who chairs the Council’s Education Committee.
  • Adrianna Zullich, an attorney who co-chairs the district’s Special Education Parents Advisory Committee. (She took Speidel’s spot.) Zullich currently has three kids in the school system. She testified at the Common Council’s public budget hearing last week (around the 58-minute mark) to advocate for an increase in the city’s annual $70 million funding for the school district.

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The first three — Speidel, Hill and Everhart — have been operating as a slate during the petitioning period, which began mid-April. It takes 400 valid signatures on a nominating petition to qualify for the November ballot. School board races are nonpartisan, so there is no June primary. 

Petitions are due to the Erie County Board of Elections next Tuesday.

Ed Speidel, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council. Photo by Garrett Looker.

Speidel, Hill and Everhart supporters have been going door-to-door collecting signatures for all three candidates. 

The other three candidates — Scott, Heard and Zullich — are circulating their petitions separately.

Terrance Heard, Buffalo Board of Education member at-large. Photo by Garrett Looker.

Speidel considered a run for the board’s Park District seat in 2022 but deferred to Terri Schuta, a retired Buffalo schools principal. He now counts Schuta and North District School Board Member Cindi McEachon as allies in his race for an at-large seat. 

He is also close to Board President Sharon Belton-Cottman. 

Scott and Heard, on the other hand, are part of a board faction frequently at odds with the board president.

Buffalo Board of Education President Sharon Belton-Cottman. Photo by Garrett Looker.

Rivera, who joined the board in 2019, was aligned with Scott and Heard. Earlier this year she was named provost at Villa Maria College, where she was an English professor.

The school board has nine members — three at-large seats and six district seats. The at-large terms are five years. District seats carry three-year terms. All district seats will be up next year.

School board members are paid $28,000 annually, thanks to a substantial raise for city elected officials adopted by the Common Council last year.

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