Meet the BOE candidates for the 2015 election

Tessa Peierls, Assistant News Editor

Five candidates are in competition for three open positions on the Board of Education on May 19.  This article went to print the day before the election, but candidates have established clear positions on budgetary issues.

Between the five candidates, there is a wide variation in ideas for the school system, and opinions about how much the school should spend on internal improvements. The five candidates are Mr. James Ansel, Mr. Larry Greenstein, Ms. Nora Johnson, Mr. David Sattinger, and Ms. Elizabeth Weisburd.

Mr. Ansel is the candidate who is the most strongly opposed to the bond that recently passed.  Mr. Ansel is the leader of Citizens for School Management, an organization that stands for efficient management of school funds, and was in direct opposition to the bond.

“The school board is perpetrating distortions on the community to justify the bond,” said Mr. Ansel to the Port Washington News. 

Mr. Ansel feels that complaints about a lack of safety and failing buildings are exaggerated, and his campaign is based on a desire to manage the budget more appropriately.  He commented on the other candidates and the bond in his statement.

“In this election, we have two no-change incumbents and a yes parent,” said Mr. Ansel.  “All three, in their deceptive promotion of the $70 million construction bond, victimized Port Washington with $36 million in interest alone and another $18 million in unnecessary work.”

Mr. Greenstein is running for re-election.  He is the co-founder of the League of Special Education Voters, as well as a former treasurer of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington.  One of his major goals is to increase voter turnout, and he was in favor of the bond.

Ms. Johnson has three children who either currently attend or have attended schools in the district.  Ms. Johnson gave a statement of her current accomplishments for the district to the Port Washington News. 

“We work collaboratively and relentlessly to deliver the best possible opportunities for every student, despite the outside obstacles: unfunded mandates, decreasing state aid, and the tax cap,” said Ms. Johnson.  “We are sensitive to the economic stresses so many face. Working with our educators and parents, we’ve preserved and improved programming on a budget that’s been consistently under the cap.”

Mr. Sattinger is a parent of a student at Weber Middle School and a resident since 2004. One of his primary concerns is that the rising taxes threaten the district’s diversity, and he plans to promote a modern education plan while keeping education affordable. He proposed a Community Oversight Panel.

“In my opinion, Sattinger is too easily swayed by the arguments of the anti-programming, anti-budget crowd,” said senior Josh Curtis.  “If he were elected, he’d still be a minority in that respect, but it may certainly disrupt long-term policy to give this group a foothold on the board.”

Ms. Weisburd is the current co-president of the Weber HSA and was a member of the school district community committee for the bond.

“I believe that a strong Board of Education, capable of working together, can implement the vision I have for the schools,” said Ms. Weisburd to the Port Washington News.  “Creating a space where all students are included and supported socially and emotionally is something we need to continue to work on and strive for.”

Some students prefer certain candidates over others, and feel that in order for the students of the district to thrive, BOE members need to be in support of items such as the bond.

“For me, support of the bond and the budget are very important,” said senior Kim Winter.  “If BOE members don’t support our funding, they aren’t supporting the student body.”

Students recognize the importance of this election, as well as the outcome of it.  This decision will determine the direction the district takes, and how the BOE will approach eliminating and expanding programs.

“This election is primarily about the course our district will take when it starts having enough money to either cut taxes, restore programs, or innovatively expand them,” said Curtis.