Written by Daniel Offner Wednesday, 28 May 2014 00:00
This year’s school elections proved to be a big one for the challengers in Levittown, with nearly every seat contested in each of the two local school districts.
In the Island Trees Union Free School District, a last-minute endorsement from the teacher’s union paired with an outspoken campaign, helped net the trio of Brian Fielding, Paul Giambona and Michael Rich three seats on the Board of Education.
“I was excited that so many people came out,” Fielding said. “It shows that when change is needed a small community can stand together.”
The three challengers in the race ran on a campaign platform focused on transparency concerns surrounding the district’s proposal to develop 156 to 250 condominium units for seniors 55 and older on 11.3 acres of Island Trees school property.
Although Board of Education members said they would create a committee to examine the proposal, the challengers would go on to sweep the three incumbents: Board of Education President Kenneth Rochon and Trustees Pat Mahon and George Storm.
“It is very vindicating,” said Giambona, “the entire time you hope the people feel the same way you do... you hope you’ve taken the right stance.”
After a hard-fought five-month campaign, Giambona said the turnout on May 20 made the campaign worthwhile. “It’s nice to know that our stance was in touch with how the community felt.”
Giambona added that the three newly minted Board of Education members appreciate incumbents Rochon, Mahon and Storm for volunteering their time and effort to the district over the years.
In the neighboring Levittown School District, voters cast their ballots on May 20 to elect three of five candidates running for the Board of Education.
Based on the unofficial poll results, newcomer Karen Smith was elected to a three-year term, beating incumbent Peter Porrazzo and challenger Marianne Adrian with 1,625 votes.
Smith, a Levittown parent and retired New York City corrections officer, said she ran with the goal of maintaining a safe learning environment for students without loss of employment.
“I did not single anyone out when I ran,” said Smith, “I just wanted a seat on the board so I can bring my strong budget skills to the table and focus on our children and community.”
With the three highest vote-getters elected to the board, incumbents Michael Pappas and Frank Ward would also beat Porrazzo and Adrian to keep their seats on the Levittown Board of Education.
“As a strong working advocate for our children, I will be a hands on board member,” Smith recently told the Levittown Tribune. “I aspire to strengthen the pride in our schools and community through empowerment and open communication.”