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Write-in

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School board Trustee Mark Doyle has launched a write-in campaign for re-election in Port Jefferson, two weeks after a deadline passed without enough residents filing to run for the board.

School board Trustee Mark Doyle rides atop a convertible during the Port Jefferson homecoming parade this past October. File photo by Bill Landon
School board Trustee Mark Doyle rides atop a convertible during the Port Jefferson homecoming parade this past October. File photo by Bill Landon

There are three seats up for election on May 19: Doyle’s and those of Trustee Vincent Ruggiero and Vice President Jim Laffey. Those who were interested in seats on the board of education had to turn in paperwork to run by April 20, but that day came and went with only Ruggiero handing in a petition.

District Clerk Janice Baisley said the district would rely on write-in candidates to fill the open seats for three-year terms.

Doyle, who works for the American Physical Society, a nonprofit organization working to better the understanding of physics, previously said he was not running for re-election because of a new job that required more responsibility and traveling, making him unsure if he could fully commit to being a school board trustee. But the six-year incumbent said Monday that he reflected further on the matter and has had time to adjust to his new professional role.

“I now believe that I will be able to serve effectively on the board despite my other commitments,” he said in an email.

He said his change of heart came after seeing others had not stepped up to serve, and that his original decision not to run had been a difficult one.

“I feel there is still much to be done to keep the district on a sound fiscal path while pursuing the goal of outstanding student achievement,” Doyle wrote.

He added that the community needs “experienced and knowledgeable board members” because it is contending with “turmoil caused by the actions of [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo and the state education department.”

Doyle, who has lived in the district for 18 years, plans to use word-of-mouth and signs to raise awareness of his campaign for the board.

Baisley said there will be instructions in the voting booths on the day of the election to guide community members through voting for candidates who are not on the ballot. Pens will be provided for the write-in votes.

Doyle said in his email Monday, “My goal has always been that Port Jefferson should continue to be a community that families favor for raising and educating their children.”

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Vincent Ruggiero file photo

Two of the three community members who will be elected to the Port Jefferson school board on May 19 will be write-in candidates.

Paperwork that board hopefuls had to fill out in order to run for one of the three available seats next month was due on Monday, but only incumbent Vincent Ruggiero submitted a petition, according to District Clerk Janice Baisley. Board member Mark Doyle and Vice President Jim Laffey did not hand in paperwork to run for re-election, and no one from the community at large threw his or her hat in the ring for a three-year term on the school board.

Port Jefferson school district officials got advice from counsel, Baisley said, and “the next step is write-in candidates.”

According to Baisley, instructions on how to vote for a candidate who is not on the ballot will be posted in the voting booth on the day of the election. Pens will be provided at the booths.

Lone official candidate Ruggiero did not return a call seeking comment. He has served three years on the school board.

The teacher, 48, has lived in the district for eight years and has children in the district. When he first ran for the school board in 2012, he said his teaching experience would help Port Jefferson school district navigate difficult issues such as the Common Core Learning Standards. He also said he wanted to help the district find other sources of funding to ease the burden on taxpayers.

Doyle, who has served six years, said in an interview on Tuesday that he is not running for re-election because he has a new job that comes with more responsibility and traveling.

“I couldn’t guarantee 100 percent commitment to the board,” he said.

To the people who succeed him, he advised “it’s important for board members to have a broad perspective about the entire … community and not just bring their own personal points of view to the table.”

Laffey didn’t return a call for comment.

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