Four will vie for three seats on Riverhead school board

Four candidates will be seeking three seats on the Riverhead school board this May.

School board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse and vice president Greg Meyer will be running for reelection and newcomers Patricia Sapienza-Brown and Kimberly Ligon will also be seeking a seat on the board, according to petitions filed with the school district by the 5 p.m. deadline Monday.

Incumbent school board member Kathy Berezny will not be seeking reelection.

Ms. Cotten-Degrasse, Mr. Meyer and Ms. Sapienza-Brown have said they will be campaigning as a team.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, a retired teacher who taught in the district for 33 years, was president of the teachers’ union in Riverhead for five years and is a co-founding member of North Fork Breast Health Coalition. She is seeking her second term on the board.

She said she felt it was her responsibility to remain in office until the fate of a multi-million-dollar bond for improvements at the district’s schools is decided. “I feel that we are right in the middle of it and that I owe it to the community,” she said.

Mr. Meyer said he felt the most pressing issue the district is facing is the deteriorating condition of the district’s buildings. “Our infrastructure, it’s crumbling to pieces,” he said.

Mr. Meyer is a firefighter and emergency medical technician at Brookhaven National Lab. He is also a volunteer with the Wading River Fire Department. He is seeking his second term on the board.

Ms. Sapienza-Brown, who is the transportation director at Peconic Bay Medical Center, has two children who have attended Riverhead schools. She now has a 17-month-old granddaughter who she said will most likely go to school in Riverhead, too. “I want to make sure my granddaughter gets the same opportunity I had,” she said.

Ms. Ligon did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Taxpayers will vote on the school board members as well as the district’s $109.6 million budget on May 17.

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