Sag Harbor School Board Appoints Attorney to Vacant Seat

From left, Yorgos Tsibiridis, Caleb Kercheval and Brian DeSesa interviewed for an appointment to the Sag Harbor School Board on Monday. Christine Sampson photo

The newest member of the Sag Harbor Board of Education is Brian DeSesa, a parent and local attorney who is also a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals.

The School Board chose Mr. DeSesa from among three candidates who expressed an interest in the position. He had the support of four of six board members when the vote was taken at a board meeting Monday night. He succeeds January Kerr, who stepped down from the board December 13, about midway through her first three-year term.

Mr. DeSesa’s appointment will run until May 21, the day of the annual school board elections and budget vote. Because there will be two seats routinely up for election plus the former Kerr seat with a year-and-six-week term remaining, the third-highest vote getter among the candidates will be sworn in immediately to fill the seat. Mr. DeSesa has expressed an interest in formally running for election then.

On Monday, the board held a half-hour public question-and-answer session with the three candidates. Besides Mr. DeSesa, they also interviewed Caleb Kercheval, a parent and real estate agent who has a background in information technology and took part in the board’s transportation subcommittee last year, and Yorgos Tsibiridis, a parent and real estate agent who has a background in finance, is fluent in five languages and has volunteered on the district’s policy committee for the last three years. Mr. Kercheval and Mr. Tsibiridis have also expressed interest in formally running for election in May.

“I look forward to serving with the board and I’m excited to join them,” Mr. DeSesa said Tuesday. Of Mr. Kercheval and Mr. Tsibiridis, he said, “I know both of them and they’re both great guys. I hope that we all run [for election] in May. There are three seats, so it could all happen.”

Mr. Tsibiridis received a nomination for the appointment and had the support of two board members, Chris Tice and Susan Lamontagne. Before making a choice, the board adjourned to executive session for about an hour and a half to weigh the decision of which candidate to appoint. Past appointments to vacant seats, including in 2017, 2014 and 2012, have largely been unanimous.

“That was tremendously challenging,” said Diana Kolhoff, who stepped into the role of board president following the departure of Ms. Kerr, who was president at the time of her resignation.

“The candidates we got were all amazing and it was a very, very difficult decision,” Ms. Kolhoff said. “We were almost at an impasse, but we felt like leaving the seat vacant was not in the best interest of the district, so ultimately we made an appointment. They were fantastic. They really were.”

During the interview session, Mr. DeSesa told the board he is a problem solver and critical thinker who has a commitment to public service.

“My interest here is to continue the excellence the school has, the reputation it has,” he said. “I want to be part of the process to continue that.”

Asked by board vice president Jordana Sobey if his job as an attorney or his role with the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals would be a conflict of interest, Mr. DeSesa said they would not be.

“Nothing I do for the town would affect the village,” he said. “If any client came in, I would recuse myself or do whatever is appropriate in the situation.”