Local School Board Campaigns Take Shape

From left, Brian DeSesa, Julian Barrowcliffe and Yorgos Tsibiridis are running for seats on the Sag Harbor School Board.

School board election campaigns are in full swing in Sag Harbor, with three candidates actively campaigning so far and four others tentatively considering running for three open seats.

Julian Barrowcliffe and Yorgos Tsibiridis, along with incumbent candidate Brian DeSesa, are the three active hopefuls, while Jeff Peters, Caleb Kercheval, incumbent board member Chris Tice and former board member Sandi Kruel said this week they are still undecided on whether to run. Seats held by Ms. Tice and current board member Susan Lamontagne are up for election this May, as well as a seat vacated by January Kerr earlier this year. Ms. Lamontagne has decided not to seek a second term on the board.

Mr. DeSesa, an attorney, has been a partner for the last three years with the Bridgehampton-based Adam Miller Group, and is a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. He has a daughter in Sag Harbor’s prekindergarten program and was appointed to the vacant seat left in the wake of Ms. Kerr’s resignation.

“I think the school has been doing a great job with programming and options for students,” Mr. DeSesa said, “and I want to work to continue that excellence.”

Mr. Barrowcliffe, who has been a frequent critic of the district’s special education program, says he is “very passionate personally about education” because “nobody in my family had any.” He himself has a degree in business administration and French from Loughborough University of Technology and has built and worked on international commodities trading systems. He is the parent of a Pierson Middle-High School student and five-year-old twins, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. He also serves on the board of a not-for-profit private school, The Blue School, in Manhattan.

“I genuinely believe we’ve got the opportunity to have one of or the best school on Long Island and we should be aiming really high,” Mr. Barrowcliffe said in an interview this week.

Mr. Tsibiridis has twice sought an appointment to a vacant board seat. Originally from Greece, he arrived in the United States 20 years ago to pursue a Master’s degree in business administration in finance at Columbia University. He works as a real estate broker for Douglas Elliman 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.

“I have a global perspective on things, on education, and I think my finance experience is going to help a lot with the budget,” Mr. Tsibiridis said. “We need to keep investing in the school and in our kids, but at the same time life is becoming very expensive. The taxpayers who pay for the school are getting the burden. You kind of have to balance this.”

In an email distributed widely on April 2, local parent and business owner Larry Baum — who said he represents a group of 30 to 40 people called “Concerned Parents of Sag Harbor” — said “the team who successfully and overwhelmingly supported our last slate of school board candidates is getting back together at this critical time” to support “three amazing parents who have stepped up and agreed to run together for the three open seats.” The email champions Mr. DeSesa, Mr. Tsibiridis and Mr. Barrowcliffe.

However, two of them said this week they had not yet formally agreed to run together as a slate.

“I’m not sure this is how it works, but I’m running my own campaign,” Mr. Tsibiridis said Wednesday. “I didn’t perceive it that it was a slate.”

Mr. Barrowcliffe said Tuesday that he embraces “any and all support, but I’m nobody’s guy.” On Wednesday, he said he is happy to be running alongside Mr. DeSesa and Mr. Tsibiridis.

Mr. DeSesa said Wednesday he had not seen Mr. Baum’s email, and acknowledged he said he would work with the other candidates to get elected, but said it was “not as a formal slate.”

He said, “I think it’s good for everybody” to start off with the support of a group of parents in the community.

Mr. Baum on Wednesday asserted his slate comment was accurate.

“They’re going to be running as a group,” he said. “They just need to get organized.”

He called the three actively campaigning candidates “really smart.”

In the Bridgehampton School District, five candidates are seeking two board seats; it will be the district’s second contested race in the last six years. Incumbents Jennifer Vinski and Michael Gomberg are seeking reelection, while newcomers Randy Davis, Angela Chmielewski and Carla Lillie have all begun campaigns.

School board petitions are due in to the respective district clerks at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 22.