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Letter: Response to Joel Katz’s Words Regarding Number of Polling Places in School Elections/Budget Vote

Joel Katz, what qualifies you to decide how any of us should cast our ballots for school board trustees? Isn’t the essence of a free and democratic society the right to cast a vote of one’s conscience in the privacy of a voting booth? On the one hand, you state, “Don’t our board members know that our right to vote is the most precious right that any of us has in this country? It is that right to vote and the respect for the results of votes that enables us to change governments and to pass laws, without having to resort to the violence experienced in many other countries.” [emphasis added]. [Note: You ran for a seat on the board and were defeated in 2005-06, the year the budget was defeated twice. I voted against that budget and did not vote for you as trustee. That’s American democracy in action!] Yet, rather than trying to earn my vote, you are busy minimizing the votes of anyone who didn’t support your candidates.


I am not a PTA Mother; I’m a [non-practicing] attorney. I’ve served on two childhood cancer charity boards, while raising three [surviving] sons and caring for my blind 93-year-old father. I know Sandy Ehrlich and Karen Sloan, both current school board members, and Paula Whitman. All are incredibly hard-working community volunteers. Port Washington is a better place because of the untold hours contributed by these women in multiple venues including school board, Parent Council, Parent Resource Center, Hadassah, three synagogues and yes, PTA. Your disparaging their contributions by calling them “PTA Mothers” would be laughable if it were not so insulting. Your epithet is, instead, a compliment to all of us who spend hours volunteering for various philanthropic, educational, and religious endeavors.

You postulate that “PTA Mothers” are almost always guaranteed to win contests because many voters don’t consider voting in school board elections important and that your four male “eminently qualified candidates can not get themselves elected to the board.” You concluded that because you and your hand-chosen candidates lost elections [to “PTA Mothers”?] that such elections were a popularity contest. Of course, the most popular candidates won, defined as “Democracy 101”! You admit that there was no increase in voter participation since the single polling place was expanded from one to four.

Stop making excuses! Vituperative comments are rude, childish and counter-productive. I know none of the men mentioned and I cast no aspersions on them. However, Mr. Katz, election results are clear. If you and your candidates could not get elected to the board, it was because a majority of those who did cast ballots deemed others more eminently qualified. Your job and those of your supporters is to publicize your attributes and qualifications before the May election and to “bring out the votes of supporters” on Election Day. Anything else is bad manners and bad sportsmanship. You excoriate people for not voting and then show contempt for those who did. You display no respect for the precious votes cast for candidates not of your choosing. That is most un-American of all !

Susan J. Miller, Esq.