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Posted on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Saline school board elects David Holden as next president, sets deadline to apply for vacant seat

By Danielle Arndt


New Saline school board members Karen Delhey, left, and Diane Friese are sworn in by new President David Holden Tuesday night.

Danielle Arndt |

The Saline school board has a new president. And he wasted no time ushering out what he saw as old ideas and taking charge Tuesday night.

“I will be a very inclusive leader,” said David Holden, after the Saline Area Schools Board of Education unanimously voted him into the presidency. “All opinions that are expressed will be valued and fully listened to.

“We have talented people here on this school board. And everyone brings different strengths. My goal will be to capitalize on those strengths to get everyone contributing to the betterment of the district.”

David Holden Hi-Res Print Use-3.jpg

David Holden

Holden said there was some “turmoil” on the board last year and he intends to help the board function more as a team.

Tuesday marked the first meeting of the New Year for Saline school board members. While the board swore in two new trustees, Karen Delhey and Diane Friese, an empty seat remained at the table.

Former board trustee Amy Cattell resigned last week.

According to reports, she was unhappy about her length of service being extended by a year and had plans to resign in June. She decided to resign at the start of the calendar year instead to allow the new board a fresh start and to avoid a mid-year transition.

Cattell’s term was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2013, but as the result of a new Michigan election law, Saline schools switched the length of its board terms from four years to six years. Because of the switch, Cattell’s term would have expired Dec. 31, 2014.

Current school trustees have until Feb. 9 — 30 days after the date of effective resignation — to fill the vacancy on the board.

The appointed member will serve until the November 2014 election, at which time he or she can run for the position. The new state law says school board elections can only take place in the fall of even-numbered years.

The board will accept applications from community members interested in serving as a trustee until 4 p.m. on Jan. 15.

Later that evening, at 6:30 p.m., the board will convene a special meeting to review the applications, deliberate on the candidates’ qualifications and credentials and conduct any candidate interviews. This process may be modified if there are an overwhelming number of candidates, Holden said.

The only stipulation for applying is the individual must be a registered voter within Saline Area Schools.

Applicants must submit a letter of interest to Todd Carter, who was re-appointed to the position of board secretary Tuesday night. The letters can be sent via email or mailed to:

Todd Carter, Board Secretary
Saline Area Schools
7265 Saline-Ann Arbor Road
Saline, MI 48176

The Saline school board also voted unanimously to name Craig Hoeft as vice president. Hoeft also is the current city of Saline fire chief.

Holden expressed a desire Tuesday to switch up the board’s meeting schedule a bit — back to the Committee of the Whole, work session-type structure that the board had at one time. He said he would like the second board meeting of each month to be in this format.

“It would give us a chance to really immerse ourselves in some issues at the board table and go deeper,” Holden said of the work-session concept. “… Maybe it could be a little more relaxed and we can talk about reconfiguring the tables differently for better fostering conversation and discussion.”

Former Vice President Chuck Lesch and President Lisa Slawson chose not to run for re-election in November.

Slawson and Holden had their differences while serving together on the school board. And it wasn’t unusual for motions that were not unanimous to be 5-2 or 2-5, with Holden and Trustee David Zimmer as the odd men out.

Zimmer and Holden campaigned and ran together for their seats on the board, which they won in November 2011, taking office in January 2012.

Slawson, joined most typically by Cattell, feuded with Holden and Zimmer on a variety of issues. Most notable was the tension surrounding decisions on spending for the Michigan Association of School Boards membership dues and trainings for individual trustees. The duos also butted heads on the Pledge of Allegiance and the idea of taping and broadcasting school board meetings.

Two community members spoke about Cattell’s service to the board during the public comments portion of Tuesday’s meeting. Smita Nagpal, who ran for a seat on the board in November’s election and lost, thanked Cattell for her “direct ways.”

“She didn’t hold back in what she had to say,” Nagpal said. “I came to admire her for saying what she believed in even, if it was not the popular thing to say at the time. … So she will be missed.”

A past board member and November candidate, Paul Hynek, who served from June 2006 until losing a 2010 re-election campaign, said he enjoyed working with Cattell. He said she was very passionate and wished her luck in her future endeavors.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:02 a.m.

Yeah, who are you referring to? Come on Saline, get wise, Holden is part of a tea party group that meets at Leos' in Saline all the time. If you had been to any board meeting, you would have understood, after the man stared you down with his scary eyes, that he has a tea party agenda. He was going to mow down any person who got in the way of that agenda, and his desire to run for higher office. And I guess we have to do the reporting, because didn't, who got in his way??? Slawson and Catell, both liberal in their policies regarding teachers, kids and education, and with no political agendas. Let's keep score---Hoeft, Carter, Lesch, Graden--Conservative. Slawson and Catell---not so much. Holden has now bulldozed his way to having the agenda he wants when he wants. Oh, and by the way, Smita Nagpal is the best candidate for the board, but she won't be chosen. Dave Holden and his tea party buddies backed Delhey and Hynek, and it will be Hynek. Come on Saline, you don't spend over $7000 on a school board election like Dave Holden did and not be backed by a political party!!!

Slim Jim

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

Sour grapes ladies, move along!


Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 3:55 a.m.

I have no idea who you are talking about. Are you talking about Slawson & Catell, the 2 female former board members? Since one resigned during a term and one completed her term and did not run for a 3rd, I don't get singling them out. Are you talking about Slawson & Lesch, the 2 former board members who did not run again? Or all 3 former board members? If so for either, then I think I can correctly infer that you are using the word 'ladies' as an insult. So either you are singling out the ladies for your sour grapes comment; or you are insulting the male by calling him a lady. Neither seems to be a good thing to do. But maybe I have missed something or am just not getting something; feel free to fill me in if I needed.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

Holden is scum. 'Nuff said


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Really, Mr. Holden, turmoil? Mostly created by you, pushing your agenda over all of the board members. Now that agenda will take front and center. Good luck to Catell, Slawson and Lesch, that they were smart enough to get away from this. And, you should check the way that you spin these articles on this board. In every article, you portray Cattell and Slawson as the "bad guys" when you only had to attend a single meeting to see it was Mr. Holden and his cronies. What's up with that? Maybe some fair and balanced reporting of just the facts and not Mr. Holden's soundbites would be in order.