Budget Votes Tuesday

Many school board races are uncontested this year
Clockwise, Ivonne Tovar-Morales, Donna Sutton, Anna Bernasek, Patrick Brabant, Markanthony Verzosa

Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots for the 2017-18 school district budgets and to elect school board members in races that are largely uncontested on the South Fork.

Incumbents are running unopposed in East Hampton and Montauk and there are no contests in Amagansett or Bridgehampton. In Springs, where one candidate’s name is on the ballot with two seats available, three more people have thrown their hats in the ring as write-in candidates. In Sag Harbor, three incumbents and two newcomers are running for three available seats.

In Springs, Timothy Frazier, an incumbent who is the school board vice president, is hoping to keep his seat for a third three-year term. While he is the only candidate to have delivered his petition to the district clerk in time to be on Tuesday’s ballot, this week Donna Sutton, Patrick Brabant, and Ivonne Tovar-Morales announced write-in campaigns. The top two vote-getters will win seats.

Mr. Frazier, who is the principal of the Southampton Intermediate School, was first elected to the school board in 2011 and was elected to a second term in 2014. He began his career as a teacher more than 30 years ago and became an administrator in the 1980s. His wife, Tracey Frazier, is a fifth-grade teacher at the Springs School.

Ms. Sutton has a background in public health, having worked as a program coordinator for the North Carolina Division of Public Health. After moving to Springs, she served as the director of public relations and marketing for Southampton Hospital and as assistant manager for education at the American Institute for Cancer Research. She is an insurance adviser for Amaden-Gay Agencies and has an 11-year-old son at the Springs School. “I believe my varied job responsibilities, from crafting well-considered budgets to coordinating community outreach initiatives, provide me with a solid base of experience to draw from and build upon should I be elected trustee,” she said.

Mr. Brabant is a longtime resident of Springs and the owner of a construction firm. “I did not plan to run but with the open ballot I felt this was a sign. It was time for me to step up to the plate,” he said. Mr. Brabant has two children at the Springs School, another one about to graduate from East Hampton High School, and a fourth who is in college. He is a member of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee and, having had four children go through the Springs School, said he has attended school board meetings every month for the last 14 years.

Ms. Tovar-Morales was raised in Montauk and later in Springs. She is fluent in English and Spanish and works at  East Hampton High School in the English as a new language and bilingual programs. She is also enrolled in Long Island University’s social work program and hopes to pursue a career as a social worker. Ms. Morales believes that her bicultural background gives her the unique ability to help the ever-growing diverse population of the district, and she said, being bilingual “offers me the opportunity to communicate with all community members and bridge the gap between the two factions.”

The Springs School’s proposed budget is just over $28.1 million, a 2.15-percent increase over this year. It is under the state’s mandated cap on tax-rate increases. 

East Hampton

In East Hampton, Jacqueline Lowey and John J. Ryan Sr. are running unopposed to keep their seats on the school board. The board has seven members who serve three-year terms.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished these past six years and would like one final term to continue working for the families of East Hampton,” Ms. Lowey wrote in an email. “I’ve worked with our strong and committed team of administrators, teachers, and my colleagues on the board to implement major improvements to the district.”

Before returning to the board two years ago, Mr. Ryan had served six earlier terms. Now retired, he taught math and computer skills in East Hampton schools for 24 years. He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

East Hampton voters will also weigh in on a $68.3 million budget for the 2017-18 school year, an increase of 2.38 percent over this year. It, too, remains under the tax cap.

A proposition on the ballot in East Hampton would authorize the district to establish a capital reserve fund for future district-wide improvements related to growing enrollment, property acquisition, and the replacement of technology and telecommunications equipment, infrastructure, and software. Among the projects being discussed for the near future are the resurfacing of the tennis courts, replacement of the turf field at the high school, and renovation of the high school auditorium. Spending for specific projects in the future would be subject to voter approval.

Voting will take place at the school between 1 and 9 p.m.

Voting is scheduled from 1 to 8 p.m. and will take place in the district office, adjacent to the high school building. Voters must use the entryway to the district office, and not the main entrance to the high school.

Amagansett

Update: Amagansett Race Heats Up

In Amagansett, Anna Bernasek is the new name on the ballot, while Patrick Bistrian III and Dawn Rana-Brophy are running to keep their seats. There are five members on the board, and three open seats, two for three-year terms and one for one-year term. The candidates who receive the highest number of votes will win three-year terms and the third place vote-getter will get the one-year term.

Ms. Bernasek has two daughters — one in Amagansett and the other at East Hampton High School. A full-time resident of Amagansett for the last eight years, she is a journalist and author who writes about economics and business. Her work has appeared in Fortune, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Australian Financial Review, and The Sydney Morning Herald. She is also a regular commentator on radio and television, and an author of two books on economics. She holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Michigan and a master’s in public policy from Princeton University and is a senior editor with a global economic think tank.

Amagansett’s budget is up by 1.96 percent this year to just under $10.7 million. Voting will be in the school gym from 2 to 8 p.m. 

Bridgehampton

The seven-member Bridgehampton School Board has two, three-year seats available. Kathleen McCleland, an incumbent, is seeking re-election and Markanthony Verzosa is running uncontested for the other seat.

Mr. Verzosa is the owner of a Bridgehampton design and construction company. He has served as vice president of the Bridgehampton Parent Teacher Organization and worked as an associate professor at the University of Tennessee, as well as a design mentor at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. He has two children attending the school.

The proposed 2017-18 budget for Bridgehampton is just under $14.36 million, an increase of $578,024 over this year. Also on the ballot is a proposition to allow the district to redistribute the balance of an already approved 2013 capital reserve fund to install and maintain a geothermal heating and cooling system as part of a planned school addition. There is no additional cost to taxpayers. The expense will not exceed $1.275 million and will be endowed by transferring just under $1.1 million from the district’s capital reserve fund as well as from unassigned, unappropriated fund balance and unexpected appropriations.

Voting will be in the school gym from 2 to 8 p.m.

Montauk

In Montauk, Kelly White is running unopposed for a third five-year term on the board. The proposed district budget for 2017-18 is just over $18.8 million, a decrease of more than $155,000 from this year. 

Voting will be held between 2 and 8 p.m. at the school.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor voters will cast ballots on a $39.9 million budget for next year, an increase of $1.13 million. The tax levy will increase by 3.49 percent but will remain under the state-mandated cap.

Five people are vying for three spots on the board. Three incumbents — Sandi Kruel, Theresa Samot, and Diana Kolhoff, the school board president — are running to keep their seats. Two newcomers, Alex Kriegsman, an attorney, and January Kerr, an attorney and writer, are also seeking spots on the board.

Ms. Kolhoff is seeking her second term, while Ms. Kruel and Ms. Samot are both seeking their fifth terms.

The district is also seeking voter approval for a new transportation fleet capital reserve fund. Capped at $2 million, with a life of 15 years, this reserve would not cost the taxpayers any additional money, as it would be funded from a previously established bus fleet replacement reserve fund. In a separate proposition, the district seeks permission to spend $1.2 million from its capital reserve fund to replace windows at Pierson Middle and High School and the Sag Harbor Elementary School.

The vote will be held in the Pierson gym from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.