Four candidates will be seeking three seats on the Riverhead school board this Tuesday.
School board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse and vice president Greg Meyer will be running for re-election, and newcomers Patricia Sapienza-Brown and Kimberly Ligon will also be seeking a seat on the seven-member board in the at-large election.
Ms. Cotten-Degrasse, Mr. Meyer and Ms. Sapienza-Brown have campaigned 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 cofounding member of the North Fork Breast Health Coalition. She is seeking her second three-year term on the board.
She said she feels it is her responsibility to remain in office until the fate of a multimillion-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.
Ms. Cotten-Degrasse, 67, who has lived in the district for over four decades, lives in Jamesport with her husband, Antonio.
Mr. Meyer, 42, said he feels the most pressing issue the district faces is the deteriorating condition of the its buildings. “Our infrastructure, it’s crumbling to pieces,” he said.
Mr. Meyer is employed as 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.
Mr. Meyer, who has lived in the district since he was an infant, lives in Calverton with his wife, Laurie. Their three children have all attended Riverhead school.
Ms. Sapienza-Brown, 51, is transportation director at Peconic Bay Medical Center. Her two children, one of whom passed away in 2007, have attended Riverhead schools. She now has a 17-month-old granddaughter who she said will most likely attend Riverhead schools, too. “I want to make sure my granddaughter gets the same opportunity I had,” she said.
Ms. Sapienza-Brown, a lifelong Riverhead resident, lives with her daughter and granddaughter.
Ms. Ligon, 44, who has also lived in Riverhead all her life, has two daughters in the district. She said safety and the deteriorating conditions of some of the school’s buildings were also a top concern for her. “Some of the buildings need repairs and they need to be updated,” she said.
Ms. Ligon is a recreational therapist at Peconic Bay Medical Center’s skilled nursing facility. She lives in Riverhead with her daughters and husband, Fred.
Taxpayers will vote on school board members as well as the district’s $109.6 million budget on May 17.