It’s going to be a battle in both Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor for school board seats with contested races confirmed in both communities on Monday night after the state deadline to file official petitions passed.
Chris Tice and Brian DeSesa are incumbents in a Sag Harbor race that features a total of six candidates for three seats. Julian Barrowcliffe, Caleb Kercheval, Yorgos Tsibiridis and Thomas McErlean have also filed petitions. Two of the three open seats are for three-year terms, while the third is for a one-year term that represents the remainder of the time January Kerr was to serve before she stepped down in December. The top two vote-getters will earn three-year terms, while the third-highest vote-getter will be elected to the one-year term.
Ms. Tice is just finishing up her ninth year on the board, having won four previous elections that included both special elections and regular terms. She has been a part-time Sag Harbor resident since the 1960s, a Sag Harbor homeowner since 1996 and a full-time resident since 2004, and works as an associate real estate agent for Corcoran in Sag Harbor. She has three children who went through the schools, with her youngest still at Pierson. Ms. Tice has served on all of the board committees at one point or another during her tenure, and is currently a member of the athletics and audit committees.
She said she has never had “a specific agenda” as a board member, and said she feels there is more she can do for the district if reelected. “I love Sag Harbor and it’s a way to be a part of one of the most important parts of the community,” she said.
Ms. Tice said one of her goals “is to continue to support the excellent programming for the district while maintaining a budget under the tax cap.” A shorter-term goal, she said, is to be a careful steward of the Sag Harbor Learning Center through its development and opening. She also said she would like to see Sag Harbor increase its transparency in school board and district operations.
Mr. Kercheval, who has lived on the East End for 30 years and in Sag Harbor for 20 years, is a parent of two children who attend Sag Harbor Elementary School. He works as a real estate broker for Sotheby’s and said he previously had a career in information technology, working with various not-for-profits to support their programming needs. He has served on Sag Harbor’s school board transportation committee and said he has volunteered at charity events hosted by Hampton Racquet. Mr. Kercheval previously interviewed twice for a vacant board seat when the Sag Harbor School Board sought to make an appointment following members’ resignations in 2017 and 2018.
Mr. Kercheval said his main platform is to increase communication and get more community members actively involved in the school district.
“I feel like it’s my job to add my contribution,” he said. “I want to make sure that my kids and every kid gets the best education they can. I love the school. I think I could add a lot to helping us get the message out and creating a bit more confidence that what the school is doing is what the public wants us to do. That goes across the whole community, the kids, the parents with kids in the school, community members without kids in school. That’s my major goal.”
Mr. McErlean, who goes by the nickname “Tom Mac,” is a third-generation Sag Harbor resident with five children who attended local schools. Two of his three grandchildren currently attend Sag Harbor Elementary. He has owned a landscaping and property management business for the last 36 years, managing a team of 27 local people. He has also been a youth basketball coach, is a member of the school board’s athletics committee and said he currently volunteers to help Parkinson’s patients with physical activities.
Mr. McErlean ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 2004 and interviewed for a vacant board seat in 2018. He said he learned from those experiences “how to listen, to really tune in and listen to the needs of the community.”
“Through my own children’s experiences of going through Pierson, I’ve seen the dramatic changes for the positive,” he said. “What inspired me to run is I saw through those personal experiences how important it is, from special education to the International Baccalaureate program, and to the kids in the center of that, to the kids who are going to go to college or not, that they get the maximum benefit that our school has to offer.”
He said his campaign “is not about me at all. It’s about serving. I love my community.”
Mr. DeSesa, Mr. Barrowcliffe and Mr. Tsibiridis were previously profiled in an April 11 Sag Harbor Express article. Mr. DeSesa, an attorney, is a partner with the Bridgehampton-based Adam Miller Group. He is also a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. He has one child at the elementary school and was appointed to the school board in January to succeed Ms. Kerr.
Mr. Tsibiridis has twice sought an appointment to a vacant board seat. He is a real estate broker for Douglas Elliman with a background in finance and has two children in the school district. He has also been a volunteer on the school board’s policy committee for the last three years.
Mr. Barrowcliffe, a parent of a Pierson Middle School student and five-year-old twins, is a veteran of the international commodities trading industry who has a consulting business. He serves on the board of a not-for-profit private school, The Blue School, in Manhattan.
The Pierson Parent Teacher Student Association will host a Meet the Candidates debate in the Pierson High School auditorium on Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. The debate will include opening statements from each of the candidates with candidates answering a series of questions during the forum, which will be moderated by Sag Harbor Expresseditor and co-publisher Kathryn G. Menu. Audience members will be invited to submit questions, provided they are answerable by all six school board candidates.
In Bridgehampton, which has two open seats, Carla Lillie, Randy Davis and Angela Chmielewski have filed petitions, along with incumbents Michael Gomberg and Jennifer Vinski. The candidates were profiled in an April 18 Sag Harbor Express article. Bridgehampton will hold its Meet the Candidates night on Wednesday, May 8, at 6 p.m.
This article has been updated to correct the number of employees in Mr. McErlean’s company as well as his current involvement with the Sag Harbor School Board athletics committee.