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Francisca Alabau-Blatter

A closer look at some of the candidates

Comsewogue High School, above, will serve as the polling site for this year’s board of education election. File photo

By Raymond Janis

Next week, residents of Comsewogue school district will decide upon the election of two candidates for school board.

The terms for trustees Robert DeStefano and Francisca Alabau-Blatter are expiring and both are running for reelection. On Tuesday, May 17, voters will determine who will fill these seats for the next three years.

TBR News Media reached out to the declared candidates, asking them why they are running, what are the most important issues facing the district in the coming term and what they hope to accomplish if elected. Meghan Puleo and Alabau-Blatter could not be reached for interviews. We welcome Puleo and Alabau-Blatter to reach out to us and we will update this story on our website to include these interviews.

Robert DeStefano

DeStefano said he is running for reelection out of love for his community. He added that he and his wife grew up in the community, bought a house there and believe in the importance of giving back. 

“To serve this community in this capacity is something that I had the honor of doing for the last dozen years,” he said. “There are still a lot of good things to continue to do, and there are always things that we can be working on to improve.”

According to him, there is still much to be done in terms of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said this is still the greatest issue facing the district. 

“Right now it’s all about making sure we get the kids recovered from the last couple of years,” he said, adding, “We’ve all been through a lot in getting through the pandemic and making sure that for any students that are still feeling the effects of learning loss, we catch them up.” 

If elected for another term, DeStefano said his principal objective is, aside from what was previously stated, to help introduce the new programs coming to the district.

“We have a lot of exciting things coming into the district,” he said. “We are introducing a nine-period day in our high school. We have plans to bring that into our middle school to give our students more options for additional classes.” He added that he intends to perfect these programs as they are implemented by “making sure that these initiatives thrive and become part of the curriculum, so that our younger students and our future students can count on them beyond the life of just this term.”

Joseph Borruso

Borruso said that a number of people throughout the community are seeking change in the school district. 

“A lot of the candidates have been there for 10-plus years now, so they just want some fresh people in there,” he said. “My background I think is a perfect fit. I have a bachelor’s in finance and accounting, so I think I would be a good addition to help out in all aspects of the school board and the community.”

If elected, Borruso intends to focus on the curriculum and academic programs throughout the district. “We’re ranked well below some of the similar-sized schools, like Mount Sinai, Rocky Point and Miller Place,” he said. “I don’t think we’re as bad as the rankings show but I’ll dig deep into how these rankings are done and processed, and see what we can do better to get our rankings up.”

Borruso said active participation on the school board will be his principal objective. “I want to go there with a fresh way of thinking and utilize my background and skills to help push a positive agenda forward,” he said. 

Gary Bodenburg

Bodenburg said he has served the community in various capacities through committees throughout the district. According to him, he is currently the director of curriculum and instruction for a nonprofit organization that helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence. 

“It’s safe to say that I am really doing this to move together as a community, enrich the lives of all of our children and support our staff and teachers to the best of my ability,” he said.

Bodenburg emphasized the importance of costs and fiscal responsibility. At a time of great uncertainty, he suggests thoughtful consideration of budgets to be paramount. 

“It’s important to be mindful and to make sure that our budget is very tight,” he said. “We need to be extremely mindful of the circumstances surrounding what’s happening in our world and our fiscal responsibilities to our constituents.”

Bodenburg said his principal objective is to improve communication and transparency among all stakeholders and constituents throughout the district, adding, “And with that, our goal is to advocate for children. That is the most important thing that we need to do as board members.”