Write-in could win in Orient

04/15/2010 12:00 AM |

Want to serve on the Oysterponds Board of Education, but never got around to circulating the required petition? No problem.

Unless there’s a surprise by Monday at 5 p.m. when petitions must be filed with the district clerk, anyone could win a board seat with only a few write-in ballots.

That’s because as of Tuesday night, only two candidates had picked up the necessary paperwork to run for one of the three open seats. In past years, candidates didn’t have to use the formal paperwork and could simply turn in a petition with 25 qualified voters backing their candidacy to get on the ballot. But now, candidates are required to file financial declarations prior to getting a ballot spot, veteran board member Linda Goldsmith said following Tuesday night’s meeting.

It’s still possible that someone could create that paperwork themselves, Ms. Goldsmith said. But if only two candidates file petitions by 5 p.m. Monday, a write-in candidate may end up filling the third seat.

All three incumbent candidates — Carl Demarest, Nancy Williams and Kathy Caffery — have opted not to seek re-election.

Ironically, earlier this year, Ms. Williams suggested the seven-member board consider cutting its seats to five or six. But that would require a ballot resolution and none appears on the May 18 ballot. And even if it had been put to voters this May, it wouldn’t affect the current election.

“Seven years is a long time and it hasn’t gotten any easier,” Mr. Demarest said. He has a daughter who will be looking at colleges next year and he wants to have the time to make visits with her to various campuses, he said.

Ms. Williams is moving to Cutchogue, making her ineligible to stay on the board.

“I personally think this is the best elementary school,” she said. But she prefers a larger secondary school for her children, she said. If she stayed in the district, her children would be Greenport students.

Ms. Williams was appointed to the board in 2006 to complete the term of Tim Frost, who moved out of the district. She ran for re-election and won a full term in her own right in 2007.

“There are a lot of demands on my time,” Ms. Caffery said. At the same time, she took a swipe at board president Walter Strohmeyer, saying, “I don’t think that everybody needs to be retired with an MBA.”

In a letter to the editor published in last week’s edition, Mr. Strohmeyer suggested that school boards would benefit from having members who are retired with business acumen and time to give to the board.

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