Special Report: School board races a thing of the past

New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill in front of the elementary school. The incumbent is running unopposed this year. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill in front of the elementary school. The incumbent is running unopposed this year. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Like Mr. Creedon, New Suffolk school board president Tony Dill lost an election to an incumbent in 2001 before being voted in the following year.

New Suffolk, where a race has been contested only five times in the past 20 years, hasn’t had more than one candidate on the ballot since 2003.

Mr. Dill said he believes the absence of candidates in his elementary district is a reflection of how pleased residents are with the way the school is operating.

“Due to the work of the faculty, we have a really strong level of community support,” he said. “Most of the time, it tends to be an incumbent running unopposed. In that case, I think that the public is essentially content with the direction of the school board.”

While the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District hasn’t hosted a contested race in three years, it did feature races 11 times between 1999 and 2011.

Mattituck-Cutchogue school board vice president Charles Anderson, who’s running unopposed this year, was first elected by four votes in 2001, when he and three other challengers opposed one incumbent for two open seats.

Thirteen years later, in the face of apparent disinterest in the community, he feels he needs to continue running.

“I do feel a sense of responsibility to keep doing it,” he said. “No one else is. Apathy is what it comes down to and I don’t like it.”

Mr. Anderson said he believes contested races are healthy for a district, but he can understand why some residents may be afraid to sign on after watching contentious issues unfold within the district over the years.

“We make decisions that affect a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “I’ve asked people if they’ll consider running. A couple of people said they would. They never did.”

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