12 candidates seek nine seats

05/06/2010 12:00 AM |

Dorothy-Dean Thomas

Twelve candidates are seeking election to nine seats on Southold Town’s five school boards in the Tuesday, May 18, statewide school board and school budget vote.

There are races on the ballots in Greenport, Oysterponds and Mattituck, with one more candidate in each district than there are open seats.

The Southold and New Suffolk districts each have one candidate seeking a single open seat.

Voting takes place at the school in each district from 3 to 9 p.m. except in Greenport, where voting runs from 2 to 8 p.m.

All candidates were interviewed, except one, who did not respond to messages, and all were asked them same series of questions. Their profiles follow:

GREENPORT: three candidates, two seats

Michael Reed

Born in Greenport and returned to live there two years ago

* Occupation: formerly owned Reed’s Automotive in Greenport; baseball coach, president of Greenport Little League

* Why he is running: Mr. Reed said he wants to bring balance to the board in considering the needs of students and taxpayers. He was outspoken during recent budget hearings, opposing cuts that meant two popular teachers would lose their jobs and the summer school program would be eliminated. That, he said, penalizes students who “just missed” passing courses during the regular school term and who can’t afford to go to Riverhead to earn the necessary credits.

* His two cents: “I was born and raised here; I love this place and I want to be a part of the solution.”

Tina Volinski

Running for re-election after one term

* Occupation: advertising account executive for Times/Review Newspapers

* Why she is running: Ms. Volinski said as a new board member three years ago, she learned “the nitty-gritty” of the job and is now ready to roll up her sleeves and tackle the challenges the district faces. Before being elected to the board, she was active in the PTA. She feels strongly that the board is heading in the right direction and believes its current members bring the right mix of skills to the table to deal with educational development, budget issues and building repairs. She would like to remain on the board to tackle the issue all schools face in dealing with student bullying, she said.

* Her two cents: “I’m a really good listener and I try to take what everybody says into consideration.”

Heather Wolf

Board president running for re-election after one term

* Occupation: management consultant for a division of the Financial Times

* Why she is running: Ms. Wolf described her current term as “exciting” and said she was optimistic about the ability of the current board and its new superintendent, Michael Comanda, to give the district the leadership it needs to take Greenport to the next level. She sees the district’s upcoming building project as critical and also wants to continue to foster the fledgling elementary school science and technology program. She is active with North Fork United Schools and wants to continue to work with efforts aimed at saving money by consolidating some services among districts.

* Her two cents: “Let me continue what I’ve been a part of starting. We’ve taken care to build a great team and I want to continue to be a part of that.”

OYSTERPONDS: four candidates, three seats

Carl Demarest

Board member for two terms seeking re-election

* Occupation: farmer

* Why he is running: After announcing his intention not to seek re-election, Mr. Demarest had a change of heart. He wants to remain on board for the renewal of three important contracts: one for the superintendent, one for teachers and the third for educating the district’s secondary school students. He believes Oysterponds should partner more with Greenport and is pleased that an exchange program involving some sixth-grade students is on the agenda for next year. He favors moving fifth- and sixth-graders to Greenport and using space at the Orient-based school to create special education programs for all North Fork districts, creating a stream of tuition payments to Oysterponds.

* His two cents: “I do care about the kids, but I also care about everyone else in the community who has to pay for this. It’s not just a blank check.”

Deborah Dumont

A leader in the effort to study options for educating the district’s secondary school students

* Occupation: psychologist and consultant with a focus on educational reform and advocacy and a special interest in children at risk.

* Why she is running: In tough economic times, schools need to learn to operate with less, she said, but Ms. Dumont added she believes it’s important to listen to all stakeholders in making determinations about what should be cut and how to make budget reductions. Her career as an executive and educational leader has taught her the skills to foster collaborative inquiry and exchange, she said. The board needs to listen to its stakeholders and consider immediate and long-term effects of decisions, she said.

* Her two cents: “I am a successful leader with experience in the private, public and corporate sectors and I understand school budgets and have a strong record of accomplishment in balancing fiscal responsibility with program quality.

Thomas Gray

A first-time candidate who has lived in the district for two years

* Occupation: chief financial officer for the Catholic Medical Mission Board, a philanthropic organization that provides health care programs for people throughout the world

* Why he is running: Mr. Gray said he believes in the value of public education and that the role of the school board is to set a climate for the entire district that respects diverse points of view and approaches decisions with an open mind. He believes that approach requires respect and trust and an ability to represent the interests of the entire school community.

* His two cents: “This would be accomplished by maintaining an effective, efficient organizational structure for the district that lets the superintendent manage the schools, teachers teach and students learn.”

Dorothy-Dean Thomas

A candidate who lost her initial bid to serve on the school board in 2005.

* Occupation: Works at Lenz Winery

* Why she is running: Ms. Thomas hasn’t responded to several requests for information. When she ran for the board five years ago, she argued that many Long Island school budgets were bloated with administrative costs. At the time, the district’s superintendent was embroiled in controversy and Ms. Thomas said she regretted that the only recourse open to voters was to send a message of dissatisfaction to the board by rejecting the proposed budget. She called at the time for improved communications among board members, the superintendent, teachers and parents.


Judi Fouchet

Seeking her third term, she has been board president for two years

* Occupation: New York State licensed day care provider and former human resources manager for a banking firm

* Why she is running: Ms. Fouchet was born and raised in Southold and said she believes it’s important to contribute to her community. She has been active in North Fork United Schools, seeking to combine some services to save money for individual districts, and has been a board member during early efforts to institute a middle school program in Southold. She wants another term to continue to focus on the changing educational landscape in the 21st century, she said.

* Her two cents: “Education is important to me. It’s my community.”


William Gatz

Cutchogue resident who ran unsuccessfully for the board two years ago

* Occupation: Owner of Long Island National Golf Course in Riverhead and founder of a bank in northern Virginia.

* Why he is running: Having served on several local governmental committees, including the housing advisory commission and the Cutchogue hamlet stakeholders, Mr. Gatz said he’s ready to get involved in the community again now that his terms are up with the town. Mr. Gatz said that he “thinks very highly” of the current school board and that his “solid, conservative background in business” can only help the board make tough decisions that require weighing the quality of education and the pockets of taxpayers.

* His two cents: “I don’t have an agenda —