Tag Archive | "Election"

Incumbents Run Unopposed in North Haven

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By Claire Walla

This Tuesday, North Haven Village will see an uncontested election, with trustees George Butts and Diane Skilbred, as well as Mayor Laura Nolan all up for reelection.

Nolan, who will be running for her sixth term in office, includes in her list of achievements: financial stewardship (maintaining the same tax rate for the last five years); land preservation (preserving 26 acres of open space); village management (upgrading to a digital filing system); and traffic-calming measures supported by the roundabout where Ferry Road meets County Road 60.

Nolan added the most important issues facing the village in the coming years will include the effects of the two-percent tax cap, as well as “the continued pressures of development” and “preserving the beauty of our coastal waters.”

After moving to North Haven in the early ‘90s, Nolan first ran for village board in 1997.

“I originally got involved because of the deer issue,” Nolan said.

Back then, Nolan said the deer population in North Haven alone registered over 500. Together with her fellow village board members, Nolan said she helped put measures in place to reduce the deer population.

“We have safely reduced the deer herd,” she wrote in an email, “and continue to maintain a very small deer population.”

After having served on the North Haven Village Board since 2010, Trustee Diane Skilbred will be running for her second term in office.

Of the issues the village board has faced in the time she’s been in office, she said the most significant have been the law allowing residents to raise chickens and the cell phone tower first proposed in December of 2010.

“I was the only one who was opposed to it,” she said of the tower. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for North Haven.” (The cell tower proposal was ultimately shot down.)

Much of Skilbred’s decision making has revolved around the idea of maintaining the “rural character” of the village, which is why she said she strongly supported the chicken law, which was ultimately adopted by the board.

While relatively new to the village board, Skilbred was previously a member of the Architectural Review Board (ARB), which she served on for 16 years.

The main initiative Skilbred said she will try to spearhead during her next term in office is installing solar panels on the roof of Village Hall.

After four years as a North Haven Village Trustee, George Butts will be running for his third term in office.

Butts was born and raised in Sag Harbor and moved to North Haven in the ‘80s. A member of the Volunteer Fire Department and the Sag Harbor Dive Team, Butts had been Chairman of the North Haven Zoning Board of Appeals for 18 years before joining the village board.

Like Skilbred, of the most important issues the board has faced in the last four years Butts named the newly adopted chicken law and the debate over the proposed cell phone tower. But, in general, Butts said the village has remained relatively uncontroversial.

“It’s a good thing what we’re doing,” he said, explaining that the board works as a unit, for the most part, and largely avoids much bickering when it comes to deciding issues.

“I hope we’ll continue to take care of everything and make [the village] run as smoothly as it has been running,” he said.

“We’re an unusual board,” Mayor Nolan added.  “We work as a team.”

The North Haven Village election will take place this Tuesday, June 19 at Village Hall.

Landslide Victory For Sag Harbor Budget, Incumbents Reelected

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Above: School Board Candidate Tom Gleeson (top, far left) waits to hear the results of Tuesday’s election.

By Claire Walla

Coming as no surprise to the small crowd gathered in the Pierson Middle/High School gymnasium Tuesday, May 15, the Sag Harbor School District’s proposed $34,182,256 million budget passed by a landslide, with 892 votes for the budget versus only 420 against.

Similarly, Proposition #2, which will allow the district to spend up to $575,000 for the purchase of six new buses, passed with a similar margin: 851 to 432.

“I’m very pleased the budget passed,” District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto commented after the results were read. “And I’m pleased the bus proposition passed.”

This year’s election garnered 1,377 total votes, a drop of 264 from last year.

The 2012-2013 budget represents a spending increase of $956,172 over this year’s operating budget. But, more importantly, is represents a tax-levy increase of only 1.94 percent, which means it successfully falls below the two-percent tax cap imposed by New York State for the first time this year.

The real nail-biter this year was the race for school board, which had three candidates vying for two open seats. In the end, incumbents Gregg Schiavoni and Walter Wilcoxen each managed to secure another three-years on the board, putting Schiavoni in his second term and Wilcoxen in his third.

“The vote on the board is a testament to the trust the community has in the job this board has done,” Dr. Gratto noted.

When the votes had all been tallied, Schiavoni was the clear victor with 1,039 total votes. Wilcoxen came in second with 795 and Gleeson was a not-too-distant third with 576 votes.

Many in the gymnasium that night congratulated Gleeson on a hard-fought campaign.

“It’s tough to beat the incumbents,” Gleeson said after having walked over to congratulate Schiavoni on his win. (Wilcoxen had a work conflict and was unable to make it to the gymnasium before doors closed at 9 p.m.)

“It was a good learning experience,” he added. “I just hope the board continues to improve education. The kids are what’s most important.”

With his youngest daughter — who stood by his side as results were read — graduating from Pierson this year, Gleeson said his loss wouldn’t mean he would vanish from the district.

“I’ll try to stay involved as much as possible,” he declared.

In the wake of his win, Schiavoni — flanked by his two young sons — smiled as he talked about his plans for the upcoming year.

“What’s next will be keeping track of IB [the International Baccalaureate program], making sure it’s implemented correctly, and keeping track of the Pre-K program,” he said. “Going forward, we just have to keep the ball rolling.”

In an interview the day after the vote, Wilcoxen said he was excited to find he had been elected for a third term.

“We have a lot of challenges, like trying to understand how we can deal with each other more effectively [as a board],” he said.  “That seems to be number one on the list.”

But, he added that supporting IB and continuing to find ways to make the school’s finances more transparent will be key issues in the coming year.

After congratulating candidates, both board members Theresa Samot and Chris Tice said they were very pleased to hear the election results for the budget this year.

“The margin the vote passed by was really great,” Samot exclaimed, as Tice noted it was nearly 2:1. “The administration put a lot of hard work into the budget.”

Board member Sandi Kruel concurred with this sentiment, and applauded voters for passing Proposition #2.

And to her fellow board members about to begin their new three-year terms, she added, “Congratulations.”

Three Run For Two Open Seats on the Sag Harbor School Board

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By Claire Walla

There are two open seats on the Sag Harbor School Board this year, and current board members Walter Wilcoxen and Gregg Schiavoni are vying to keep them. However, a third contender has stepped in, making this election much more of a race.

Sag Harbor resident Tom Gleeson has been part of the Sag Harbor School District for the past five years. And this year, with his youngest daughter about to graduate from Pierson High School, he’s decided to make a run for the school board.

“Some people had asked me about running,” he said. “I come at things from a different perspective than some of the people on the school board now.”

Gleeson has a long history with the public school system, having been involved with every grade from kindergarten to 12th during his 33-year career, teaching history and philosophy, as well as physical education.

“For me, the most important part of education was always the kids,” he said.

While he’s not inclined to focus on any one issue just yet, saying that if he joins the board his first priority will be to learn the process, one issue Gleeson’s paid attention to in the past year is curriculum development.

It’s no secret that Gleeson was staunchly opposed to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program this year and last, when the board was still discussing the idea of bringing it into the district. Instead, he believed the district should have focused on developing a school-wide curriculum for all grade levels.

This is where he, Wilcoxen and Schiavoni differ.

“I basically want to continue supporting IB, make sure it gets instituted and gets a lot of support,” said Wilcoxen, former school board president who is running for his third term on the board.

Though the school board formally approved the district’s IB application this winter, Wilcoxen said implementing the program in the fall will require a lot of effort school-wide.

“I feel like the job’s not done,” he added.

The other issue Wilcoxen said he’d like to focus on is negotiating new teacher contracts.

“We need to come up with a new dynamic with the community,” he said. “I’d like everybody to be educated [on teachers’ salaries and benefits] so that we can discuss this from a place of knowledge, not this argumentative dynamic.”

Schiavoni, who was elected in the heat of teacher negotiations, agreed that the teachers’ contract discussions were crippling for the board.

“That took up an enormous amount of time,” he said. “It was a big stumbling block in terms of what we’ve been able to offer students.”

Schiavoni continued to say that his main impetus for running for his second term stems from the fact that the board has gained a lot of momentum since teachers’ contracts were finally settled.

Both he and Wilcoxen pointed to the board’s resolution to allow Pierson to move ahead with the IB program, as well as the implementation of a Pre-K program as very positive steps for the district.

“I feel like I owe it to the district to stay on,” said Schiavoni who currently has two kids in the district, both of them at Sag Harbor Elementary School.

Wilcoxen sent two children through the district, the younger of the two is just now finishing up college.

Gleeson retired from the public school system before moving to Sag Harbor and now works in the college admissions office at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in East Elmhurst, N.Y. He also consults with students here in Sag Harbor on the college admissions process.

“I think Gregg [Schiavoni] and Walter [Wilcoxen] have done a very nice job,” Gleeson said of his opponents. “But, sometimes there’s a need for a new voice.”

North Haven Endorsement

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A democracy by definition is a government for the people, by the people.

In the Village of North Haven, this concept was practically all but forgotten until just last month, when resident Lawrence LaRose got out, rallied his neighbors, raised some noise and — after appealing to the village board to rescind a newly passed law allowing for a 140-foot tall cell phone tower on village property — was the cause of great change.

The village complied with his wishes and rescinded the law.

LaRose is one of three candidates on next Tuesday’s ballot for North Haven Village Board of Trustees. There are two seats open and while La Rose won’t be receiving our endorsement this time around, it’s not because we aren’t pleased by his efforts to engage in local government and better his community. Even if the cell tower debacle seemingly prompted his foray into public service, LaRose didn’t take his campaign lightly. He did his homework and proved a vested member of the North Haven community with numerous ideas on how to make it better.

But a successful government is a two-way street. And last month, North Haven Village was witness to democracy in its purest form. Because when the people spoke, the village listened.

So we endorse current village board members Jim Smyth and Jeff Sander because they listened to what the community had to say, and put great effort into doing what the people said was right.

What’s more, until this heated election season, Smyth and Sander have served on a board that has worked hard to ensure property taxes remain level, and controversies remain at a distance.

Though we couldn’t see a reason to toss either Smyth and Sander out of their seats in favor of LaRose, we hope he continues to be a vocal part of the North Haven community and are glad for the spark he added to a somewhat quiet spit of land in recent days. We would love to see LaRose get a seat on one of the village’s appointed boards in the meantime where he can really delve into the inner-workings of this municipality. We would encourage others to do the same. Because, if there’s anything residents of North Haven can learn from what transpired this election season it’s this: you do have a voice.