Daniel Hartnett, David Diskin, Susan Kinsella and Chris Tice at Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor School budget vote and board election where the four were voted into office. Michael Heller photo.
By Tessa Raebeck
Sag Harbor School District voters overwhelmingly approved the district’s proposed $35,508,622 budget for the 2013-2014 school year Tuesday night by a margin of over 2-to-1.
The budget was approved by a vote of 825-377.
“We are overwhelmed and most appreciative of the magnificent support shown by the school community,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s interim superintendent, after the results were read Tuesday night in the Pierson High School gymnasium. “As a result, there are going to be some wonderful things that we can put in place for the children of this community.”
Turnout declined this year by 175 votes, with 1,202 residents turning out for the budget vote and school board election.
With a competitive field of candidates, the race for school board was especially close and six vied for four open seats.
Daniel Hartnett, a former school board member, had the most support, earning 741 votes. Hartnett returns to the board after serving two terms from 2005 to 2011. Incumbent Susan Kinsella narrowly earned the second most votes at 696. Hartnett and Kinsella will serve full, three-year terms with the board of education.
David Diskin earned 689 votes and board vice president Chris Tice earned 680 to win the two, two-year terms left on the board in the wake of the early resignations of Gregg Schiavoni and Walter Wilcoxen last year.
After serving one term on the board, incumbent Edward Drohan fell short of fourth place with 514 votes. Attorney Thomas Ré finished with 423 votes.
“Every one of the candidates were such wonderful candidates,” said Bonuso. “We knew no matter what the votes that we’d be getting a strong board.”
Smiling and joking with one another, the four winners were clearly excited as they posed for pictures.
“I am thrilled that I got as many votes as I did,” said Kinsella. “I did not anticipate that.”
Fellow board member Sandi Kruel showed her support for her colleague. “She will work very hard,” she said of Kinsella.
“The work wasn’t finished,” Kinsella continued. “I’m very grateful to the community for supporting me. I will work to keep education at the highest standards and to keep fiscal responsibility.”
Diskin, a parent and local business owner, is the only winning candidate to be elected without any prior experience on the board.
“Thanks everyone in Sag Harbor for supporting me,” said Diskin. “Thanks to my wife, Faith, and my family for helping me out.”
Tice likewise thanked the community “for supporting the budget vote and the other two propositions and sending a clear message that the school district is going in the right direction.”
“I’m excited about more time on the board to do good work for the school district,” she added.
Hartnett, who came out ahead by 45 votes — by far the largest margin among any of the winners — expressed his gratitude to the community and commended the other candidates.
“There’s a lot of work ahead,” he said. “I’m ready to get going but I feel the challenge. This community will face what we need to face to do what we need to do for the kids. It’s about the kids. The only reason I’m doing this is for the kids. I start with my family, but there’s so many kids in this community — that’s why we’re here.”
“I think we have a great board,” Ré said of his elected colleagues, who he congratulated after hearing the results. “I really had a great time running, I thought it was a lot of fun. There were many things I learned and, most likely, contributed to the discussion, so congratulations to all.”
Edward Drohan did not attend the closing of the polls in the Pierson gymnasium. In a letter to supporters sent Monday night, Ré expressed his regret that Drohan was not re-elected.
Drohan “has been a singular voice on many issues facing the board these last three years, always with integrity, fairness and frankness,” said Ré. “It is a loss of a great man and leader for all independent voices of our community.”
In addition to the budget, both propositions on the ballot passed with similarly wide margins. Proposition 2, which reaffirms the district’s policy to provide busing for children living within one and 15 miles from school, was supported 865-309.
Proposition 3, which will allow the district to spend $1.11 million on capital improvements, including repairs to the elementary school roof, the Pierson gymnasium roof and for new bleachers in the gym, was supported 910-268. That work will be funded by $240,000 from the 2013-2014 budget and an additional $873,600 coming from the district’s “Facilities Renovation Capital Reserve Fund.”
The administration was encouraged by the night’s results.
“We’re excited about the upcoming year,” said Bonuso. “Congratulations to all involved.”