By Christine Sampson
Five candidates, including three incumbents, will vie for three seats on the Sag Harbor School Board of Education this May, while the Bridgehampton School hosts another uncontested race for two seats on its board.
Incumbent school board president Diana Kolhoff, and incumbent board members Sandi Kruel and Theresa Samot all hope to keep their seats on the board, and will face off against two new faces — attorney Alex Kriegsman and attorney and writer January Kerr.
Mr. Kriegsman said in an interview this week, “we have enormous potential here in the district.”
“I’m just trying to talk to as many parents and other people in the community as I can about what their concerns are and areas of interest,” he said.
He said he believes school board meetings need to be more accessible to parents and residents, for instance with shorter meetings, more transparency and streamlined access to public participation. “The school board’s first priority should be the kids and the school district, and unfortunately that doesn’t always seem to be the case,” he said.
Ms. Kerr said in an email she takes great pride in the schools and she aims to play an active role in listening to the community. She said she aims to be “an effective conduit” between the school, residents, and families.
“The students’ parents, as well as those without children in our schools, should feel like they have a voice on the school board,” she said. “From my background as a lawyer, and now the mother of two young children, I have a lot of experience in dealing with different viewpoints, but ultimately working through the issues and reaching mutual consensus for all involved.”
Ms. Kruel said by phone Tuesday she is glad there will be a contested race in Sag Harbor, and that it is admirable that there are people willing to step up to serve their community. She is running for what would be her fifth term on the board, and said she hopes to continue improving academics and student health and wellness, as well as see through union contract negotiations and capital projects.
“I really am just looking to finish what I started,” Ms. Kruel said. “I want to make sure that the kids are taken care of and the taxpayers are taken care of. I take extreme pride in saying I was part of a cohesive team that has been able to maintain and increase programs, keep under the tax cap, and not lay off one employee. Those are accomplishments I hope to continue doing for the public and the children.”
Ms. Samot, who is also seeking a fifth term, said in an email that “it is important for me to share my time and talents to support our community, our school district and our students.”
She emphasized the historical perspective she can bring “with a focus on long-range planning, protocol development and implementation, data-driven decision making, goal setting and benchmarking.”
Ms. Kolhoff is seeking her second term. She said in an email she thinks it’s great there is a contested election, and said, “I am hoping my service record and reputation in the community speak for themselves.”
“My eye is on working together with our superintendent towards our board goals which include implementing wellness initiatives and the IB Middle Years Programme, as well as continuing the bond projects for the athletic fields and the former Stella Maris building,” Ms. Kolhoff said. “There is a lot of work to do and I feel it’s important to have steady leadership at the top as we continue to work through these long-term improvements.”
In Bridgehampton, incumbent board member Kat McCleland and newcomer Markanthony Versoza will run unopposed.
“I’m looking forward to helping maintain the consistency and forward momentum,” Ms. McCleland said. “I feel like in the last three years we’re in a really positive place in terms of growth and community outreach, and I look forward to continuing that.”
Mr. Verzosa said he is eager to use his expertise in architecture, design and construction to aid the district in the expansion project.
“I wanted to see also how I could help,” he said. “Any involvement the community can have in the decision making process is good involvement. … I’m 100 percent transparent when it comes to that. I think everyone should be really informed when it comes to the school and how it will influence the educational process.”
Budget votes and school board elections will be held on May 16 in Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor. In Sag Harbor, the PTSA and PTA will host a Meet the Candidates forum on Monday, May 1 at 6 p.m. in the Pierson auditorium.