Riverhead School District

Board watchdog among candidates running for Riverhead school board

Laurie Downs
Laurie Downs

Polish Town resident and Riverhead school board watchdog Laurie Downs publicly announced Thursday she’s running for a seat on the district’s Board of Education.

During the Editor’s Report on WRIV 1390AM with radio host Bruce Tria, and Joseph Pinciaro and Michael White of the News-Review, Ms. Downs, 58, said she’s in the process of gathering petitions to get her name on the May 20 ballot.

She told the News-Review after the radio interview she has thought about a campaign over the last couple of years.

“I just feel that this is the right time,” Ms. Downs said. “I’m not just there for the taxpayer. I’m there for the children.

“I want the best education for our children for the least money.”

This is Ms. Downs’s first run for school board. She said she also feels like now is a good time to serve on the school board because her children are grown. Her son, Eugene, graduated in 2007 and daughter, Melanie, graduated in 2006.

A Riverhead School District clerk said that the district does not release the names of individuals seeking a spot on the school board until all petitions are in, so it’s not immediately clear until then who else is running. Petitions are due by April 21.

In addition to acting as a liaison for residents that aren’t able to attend school board meetings at night, Ms. Downs said her goals include researching the district’s current elementary school boundaries to determine the feasibility of redistricting.

Ms. Downs is a former Riverhead High School Parent-Teacher Organization president who has regularly attended school board meetings for several years. She has often filmed school board meetings since 2000, which are televised on public access channel 22. She said attending virtually every meeting over the last 14 years has taught her the “ins and outs of education law.”

Her experience includes serving as PTO executive council president and event planner, and middle school PTO secretary.

Three of the seven seats on the Riverhead Board of Education are up for grabs this year.

Board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse announced last year during her campaign for town supervisor that she will not seek re-election at the end of her second term.

Board vice president Greg Meyer has confirmed he will seek another three-year term. Mr. Meyer, a Calverton resident, was first elected in 2008. He’s employed as a firefighter and emergency medical technician at Brookhaven National Lab.

Board member Kimberly Ligon has said she hasn’t decided if she’ll seek re-election. She was first elected in 2011.

To gain a spot on the ballot, candidates must submit their petitions by April 21, under state law.

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