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Election Likely to Replace Two at SW

By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — June 12, 2007 — Seven people are vying for two open seats on the Sullivan West school board, but it’s fairly certain at this point that none of them will be sitting in those seats come this July.
The June 4 deadline for letters of interest passed last week, and while the board remains officially undecided on whether it will appoint or allow a public election (or simply let state education officials make the choice), Board President Shawn Bailey said yesterday that it looks like the district will see a special election later this summer.
“At this point the two sides are so intractable… I can’t see the three coming over to the four’s side,” Bailey said.
He’s referencing the two commonly acknowledged voting blocs on the SW board: Rick Lander, Anna Niemann and Catherine Novak on one side, Noel van Swol, Rose Crotty, Shaun Sensiba and Bailey on the other.
The general perception is that Lander, Niemann and Novak are in favor of an election – or letting the future board decide, as come July it will consist of three new members elected this past May.
While Crotty has not specifically stated her stance, it is commonly believed that she, Van Swol, Sensiba and Bailey are in favor of appointment.
Bailey said he knows “from experience that they’re all pretty entrenched in,” and since a quorum (a minimum of five board members) must choose to appoint, he’s pretty much certain that leaves only one course of action.
“The best thing we can do now is let the public decide,” he concluded.
The board is scheduled to discuss the matter at its June 27 meeting at 7 p.m. in the high school in Lake Huntington, though it could set an earlier date for discussion.
Should the board choose a special election, it would have to set the date for at least 45 days later in order to properly and legally publicize the election.
Anyone interested in the open seats would have to submit the standard petition required in every school board election, so the seven current candidates would have to complete that process before being listed on the ballot.
Currently, Angela Daley, Geoffrey Neil Gangel, Robert J. Paquet, Peter T. Pierce, Tom Prendergast, Brian Scott and Ken Uy have submitted formal letters of interest to replace Arthur Norden, who resigned last month, and Jennifer Mann, who tendered her resignation last Tuesday (effective immediately).
Of those seven candidates, three – Gangel, Prendergast (both of Narrowsburg) and Uy (of Callicoon) – lost in SW board elections held this past May.
Daley (also of Narrowsburg) served on the Sullivan West board twice and also on the former Narrowsburg board.
Pierce (who operates Cochecton Oil) hails from Lake Huntington, Paquet (a retired pastor and biochemist) is from Callicoon Center and Scott (a parent of three SW students) is from Jeffersonville, making this a geographically wide-ranging pool of candidates.
If for some reason SW’s board takes no action to replace Norden or Mann, BOCES District Superintendent Martin Handler is authorized to choose a replacement after 90 days from their dates of resignation. While Handler has expressed his desire to avoid that situation, it’s more likely than the rarely-employed option of NYS Education Commissioner Richard Mills appointing the board members himself.

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