ST. MARYS — Having reorganized with a vacant seat last month, the St. Marys Area School District Board of Directors appointed new member at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Lewis Murray, a respiratory therapist at the St. Marys Pharmacy, beat out three other candidates for the job.

Three others vied for the open seat: Andrew Agosti, Stephen Aul and Clythera Hornung, who was voted off of the board in the last general election. The board appointed Murray over Hornung in a 5-3 vote.

The seat was left vacanct by St. Marys City Councilperson Margaret Brown, who forwent it for a seat she also won on city council. Brown ran for one of two open four-year seats in the district’s first region against Hornung and incumbent Robert Sorg.

The four candidates for the appointment notified the board of their interest by letter. Each was asked why they wanted the position, how school board responsibilities differ from the superintendents, whether or not they would be able to visit other schools as board members, and how they would act should they be asked a public question they were unable to answer.

Murray’s appointment comes despite the fact that he has less public school experience than Hornung, the only other candidate for whom votes were cast. Hornung said during the meeting that she had worked in four different public schools in the past, both as an interim superintendent and a principal, and that she had worked at St. Bonaventure University and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

“I have no background with the school board and I think I would offer a unique perspective. The thing that comes first for me, because I have four kids in the district right now, is making sure that the student body has opportunities,” Murray said during the interview Thursday.

Murray himself is a St. Marys alumnus. He received votes from Board Members James Condon, Timothy Frey, Robert Sorg, Jerry Zimmerman and Kathryn Blake.

Hornung received votes from members Bryan Chiappelli, Stacy McKee and Eric Wonderling.

According to the Pennsylvania Public School Code, Murray’s seat will be up for grabs in the next general election. Whoever wins it will serve out the remainder of the term.

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