Some incumbents were ousted in school board races across the region on Tuesday, including in Warrensburg, where the issue of whether to hire two school resource officers has been in voters’ minds.
Challenger Darren Duell narrowly defeated incumbent Elaine Cowin, 188-184, to win a four-year seat on the board.
Duell is in favor of the officers. His election changes the balance of power on the board, which had been 4-3 in opposition to the SROs, with Cowin among those voting against.
Resident Anne Griffin said she voted for Duell because she is worried about the safety of her children.
“If I knew there was somebody here armed and ready to protect them, it would make it a little easier on me,” she said Tuesday.
Another voter, who did not wish to give his name, said he believes that the board’s decision not to hire the SROs was “short-sighted.”
The issue of hiring school resource officers was also a hot button in Saratoga Springs, where seven people were running for three seats.
Relatively conservative budgets meant smooth sailing for all but one school district, Ticonderoga, across the region on Tuesday.
It was a mixed result as only one of the candidates promoted by Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools, which was seeking for the re-instatement of armed school monitors, was elected to the board. Dean Kolligan received 3,069 votes to win a three-year seat. He will be joined by John Brueggemann and Natalya Lakhtakia.
Two other candidates who were running as part of that group in favor of the armed monitors — Shaun Wiggins and Edward Cubanski — finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
The sole incumbent running, Heater Reynolds, was not re-elected.
Only about one-third of the 30 districts in The Post-Star’s coverage area had contested races.
In Lake George, incumbent Courtney Richichi was defeated in her bid for a second three-year term. Former member Linda King was elected to a three-year seat. She will be joined by Maryanne MacKenzie and Melissa Seale. MacKenzie and Seale were backed by the Lake George United for Education advocacy group, which has ongoing litigation against the district over the elimination of the assistant principal position last year.
There was some controversy in the final days leading up to the race with letters mailed to residents by the Lake George United for Education group detailing what they believed Superintendent Lynne Rutnik has done wrong and urging people to back certain candidates.
Rutnik said in an email that the teachers union president shared the polling list with the Lake George United for Education group.
“It has been brought to the district’s attention that a member of our staff obtained the district’s voter registration rolls under false pretenses and provided such list to a community member,” she said in an email. “While voter registration information is public, we take this lack of transparency very seriously and apologize to all voters about this breach of trust. Regardless of what, in our opinion, was inappropriate conduct by some individual adults, we hope this will not adversely affect our students.”
Incumbents also lost in Schuylerville and North Warren. In Schuylerville, longtime member Jack Macica lost his bid for another term. Newcomers Joanna Crowley and Jessica Schwerd won two three-year terms.
Jason Willette lost his bid for another three-year term on the North Warren Board of Education. Paul Buckman was re-elected and will be joined by newcomer Katelyn Hill.
In Ticonderoga, voters rejected a nearly 10% tax levy hike, but re-elected incumbents Mark Russell and Tracey Cross-Baker. They will be joined by Eric Rich.
Granville Board of Education President Audrey Hicks and member Ed Vladkya were re-elected to another three-year term. Former board member Dan Nelson won the third seat. Cyd Groff finished out of the running.
Incumbent Kevin Kelly was re-elected to another three-year term in Schroon Lake, and he will be joined by Susan Repko.
Greenwich had no one sign up to run for the board, but Stacy Perkins received 42 write-in votes to win the five-year seat.
Former mayor adds new role
Former Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond can add another title to his long resume — Abraham Wing school board member.
Diamond was elected to a three-year seat on Tuesday, defeating Kevin Hanselman by a vote of 59-51.
Diamond was mayor of the city from 2009 to 2017. He is currently county supervisor for Glens Falls First Ward. There does not appear to be any conflict with him holding both positions.
Diamond said he is excited to join the school board.
“I’m enthused about an opportunity to give back to Abraham Wing school district, that has been very supportive of myself, and I’m looking forward to being on the school board,” he said.
“I had three children who were educated at Abraham Wing School. They’ve all ended up with good careers,” he added.
He appreciated the support from the residents.
“Now it’s time for me to pay them back with my experience.”
Diamond also expressed appreciation for his opponent and said he hoped that he would stay involved in the district.
Reporters Samuel Northrop, Gwendolyn Craig and Kathleen Moore contributed to this story.