CLAWSON — This month, three Clawson residents filed as write-in candidates for the Clawson Public Schools Board of Education: Matthew Ball, Angela Hamilton and BT Irwin.
Voters will choose candidates for three four-year terms on the school board. Incumbents Kimberley Carlesimo and Michael Frink filed for reelection in July, and only their names appear on the Nov. 3 ballot, as no one else filed to run for the three seats before the deadline. Current Board member Jessica Back opted not to run for reelection.
All three write-in candidates are parents of students in the district.
Ball, an educator, small business owner, attorney and musician, said his creative and entrepreneurial background makes him the ideal candidate to solve the district’s main issue: its budget.
The district is currently discussing options for “right-sizing,” or reorganizing and potentially selling buildings, after Troy Public Schools declined the district’s invitation for annexation.
“Our district has experienced some student population shortfall over the past few years, and it’s causing some financial discomfort,” Ball said. “I think the district is at a point where the conventional tightening of your belt has been exhausted.”
Ball, an 18-year resident of Clawson, ran for a City Council seat in the election before last.
He serves on the board of the Friends of the Blair Memorial Library and spearheaded the library’s “Giving Tree”; co-organized summer concerts at the gazebo near the library; and volunteers for the Schalm Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, writing the new bylaws, newsletter and qualifying standards for the school’s new scholarship award. He has a child who attends Schalm.
Hamilton, a 14-year resident of Clawson, has three children in the district.
“I’ve thought about (running for school board) for the last year. When I saw there was still an open seat, I decided it was time to just get out there and do it,” Hamilton said. “Since my oldest has been in kindergarten, I have been involved with the schools and whatever I can do to make my children’s education and school years the best that I can.”
She has volunteered for the Kenwood Elementary School PTO and Christmas in Clawson, coached Girls on the Run through the YMCA, and served as a Girl Scouts leader.
“I know all parts of education matter — from the teachers, to the curriculum, to the leadership, to the funding, and so much more,” she said. “I would like to be a part of the school board to make sure all parts of the education bubble are being utilized to their fullest and in the best possible way to help Clawson schools flourish.”
An insurance and documentation specialist with Wright & Filippis, Hamilton said she is able to work from home due to the pandemic, so her schedule is more flexible to allow her to take on the role of a school board member.
Irwin said he and his wife moved to Clawson three years ago to build the best life for their son, Daniel, who is now a second grader at Schalm Elementary School.
“(Clawson) is the community where we wanted our son to grow up,” he said.
Irwin was a finalist for the position of Clawson city manager this summer, and he currently serves as executive director of Voices for Earth Justice. He has spent the last 20 years of his career in nonprofit management, specifically community development projects, fundraising, programming and strategic planning.
“I have a lot to contribute and I’m in the thick of it right now, with my son being in the virtual academy and teaching him every day,” he said. “With the kind of work I’m doing, I’m home a lot, and I’m here in this community a lot.”
He said his professional experience soliciting input from the public and stakeholders, listening, considering options, educating others, and rallying people for a cause make him the ideal candidate for the Clawson school board.
Irwin created a website, writebtirwin.com, to provide more details about his campaign and a weekly blog so residents can find out more about him.