Write-ins take the school board

Write-ins take the school board

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Port Jefferson, Comsewogue budgets pass

Vincent Ruggiero goes in for a handshake after being re-elected to the Port Jefferson school board. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Two write-in candidates will become Port Jefferson school board members in July, after Tuesday night’s trustee election and budget vote ended a month of uncertainty about the future of the board.

Three seats were up for election this week but only one candidate, incumbent Vincent Ruggiero, turned in paperwork to appear on the ballot by an April 20 deadline — Trustee Mark Doyle and Vice President Jim Laffey did not, nor did any other district residents. But in the face of a deficit of candidates, Doyle announced a write-in campaign for re-election, and newcomer Tracy Zamek one for first-time election.

Tuesday night, Ruggiero was returned to the board with 468 votes, and Doyle with 178 write-in votes. Zamek was elected with 246 votes.

In an interview after hearing the poll results, Zamek said she is “honored to be a voice for our children here in Port Jefferson and my plans are to really work collectively with this team to provide the best educational experience for our students in Port Jefferson.”

Doyle said he is looking forward to his third term on the school board.

“I wanted to stay on the board and I’m happy to serve another three years.”

While Ruggiero expressed excitement about working with Doyle and Zamek in the next school year, he said he would miss having Laffey on the board of education.

“He was tremendous — a hard worker, dedicated parent and member of this community.”

School board member Mark Doyle is all smiles after being re-elected by write-in votes on Tuesday night. Photo by Desirée Keegan
School board member Mark Doyle is all smiles after being re-elected by write-in votes on Tuesday night. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Aside from the two winning write-in candidates, there were other write-in candidates who received a minimal number of votes and thus fell shy of securing Port Jefferson school board seats. The largest of that write-in group was former board member Dennis Kahn, who garnered 58 votes.

Also on Tuesday night, Port Jefferson voters approved a $42.4 million budget for next year, with 491 votes in favor to 130 against. A second ballot proposition, to create a new capital reserve fund that would help fund roof replacements throughout the district, also passed, with 467 votes in favor and 122 against.

“We’re extremely pleased with the results of the vote,” Port Jefferson Superintendent Ken Bossert said. “We’re very happy to see such an overwhelming level of support from the community.”

Over in the Comsewogue School District, voters approved an $85.2 million budget, with 1,024 votes in support and 204 votes against. That district’s second proposition, to expand bus service to include 38 more John F. Kennedy Middle School students, also passed, with 1,096 votes to 134.

Three candidates ran unopposed for the Comsewogue Board of Education: board President John Swenning was re-elected with 1,058 votes; Trustee Rick Rennard was re-elected with 1,010 votes; and newcomer Louise Melious was elected with 978 votes.

Desirée Keegan contributed reporting.