School board elections are heating up as unusually contested this year in East Hampton and Springs, with five newcomers and an incumbent battling for three openings in East Hampton and three candidates hoping to fill two places in Springs. They have a little less than a month to make their cases in time for May 21 elections and budget votes.
The six East Hampton candidates are J.P. Foster, Nicholas Boland, Richard Wilson, Mary Ella Moeller, Wendy Geehreng, and Alison Anderson, the incumbent board member. Two other incumbents, George Aman, board president, and Lauren Dempsey, decided to step down. Last year, only two residents ran for two open seats.
In Springs, two board members, Kathee Burke Gonzalez, board president, and Teresa Schurr, announced they would not run again. Vying for their seats are Jeffrey Miller, Adam Wilson, and Martin William Drew Jr.
There are two people vying for one seat in Montauk, which is covered in a separate story. Two incumbents, John Hossenlopp, president, and Victoria Smudzinski, are running unopposed in Amagansett.
In East Hampton, Mr. Foster and Ms. Geehreng, who are related through marriage, plan to campaign as a trio with Mr. Boland. According to Mr. Foster, they will hold events together and hope to infuse the board with new blood and fresh ideas.
Mr. Foster, 42, ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 2005. He works as a supervisor in East Hampton Village’s emergency operations center, is a real estate agent with the East Hampton office of Town and Country, and is on the East Hampton Town Planning Board. He has two children at the middle school.
Ms. Geehreng, 41, works as a part-time pediatric nurse-practitioner at Southampton Pediatric Associates and as a real estate saleswoman at the East Hampton branch of Brown Harris Stevens. In September, she will have one child at East Hampton High School, one at East Hampton Middle School, and two at John M. Marshall Elementary School.
Mr. Boland, 48, is a former lawyer who moved to East Hampton in 1996. While he doesn’t have children in the East Hampton system, his wife is a first-grade teacher at John Marshall. Self-described as a “small-business entrepreneur,” he started a home improvement business and then a company called Fuel Renewal.
Mr. Wilson, 73, is a retired Sag Harbor science teacher and a regular at school board meetings. This is his first bid at public office. A resident of East Hampton since 1968, he hopes to improve the district’s science program. He has four grandchildren who attend East Hampton schools.
Ms. Moeller is also a regular attendee at school board meetings. Outspoken, she routinely sits in the front row. A former home economics teacher, she moved to East Hampton in 1996. She is a member of the East Hampton Town senior citizens advisory committee and of the Ladies Village Improvement Society, a volunteer at the East Hampton Healthcare Center, and a deacon of the East Hampton Presbyterian Church.
At 75, she dismissed the notion that age might be an issue in a race where a majority of her competitors were much younger. “You’re only as old as you feel,” she said. “And I feel pretty young.”
The incumbent school board member in East Hampton, Ms. Anderson, was still undecided about running again at last week’s board meeting. She is now on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Among the candidates in Springs, Mr. Drew graduated from the Springs School, and has worked as a carpenter. Mr. Wilson, vice president of the East Hampton Little League, has lived in Springs for 13 years. Mr. Miller, a lifelong Springs resident who also graduated from the Springs School, has been a member of the Springs Fire Department for many years. He is a deputy fire coordinator for Suffolk County and works in public works for East Hampton Village.