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Letter: Reflections On the Special School Board Election

The special school board election in the Westbury Union Free School District resulted from complaints of irregularities during the 2008 regular election and the removal of two of the winning candidates from the school board following a directive from State Education Commissioner Richard Mills.

This election, and the events that led up to it, was one for the books in a number of ways. For starters, it was a very rare use of such power by the education commissioner, and additionally, the electioneering activities prior to election day on June 23, was a departure from the norm in terms of platform content and delivery.

As a 14-year resident of Westbury, having been involved in electioneering in all but one school board election since, I cannot recall an election that was so fraught with name calling, muckraking and personal attacks. One might say that these are petty issues that go along with the nature of the business, and that campaigning for public office is not for the faint of heart, but my concern is that this might now become the new norm, and might discourage people from offering themselves as candidates for public service.

There was much talk about wasteful spending and even misuse of funds, and to bolster this point, perhaps the most explosive charge in the entire campaign was made: that one of the candidates voted to give the superintendent of schools a salary increase in exchange for her (the candidate) getting $30,000 of the public’s tax dollars to send her child to an expensive elite prep school.

This is a very serious allegation that I do not believe is true; I also do not believe that payola is involved in the school board voting process. But I’m really having a hard time trying to fathom why would anyone seek to impute one’s character in such a dastardly manner without any basis whatsoever?

It is for this reason why I believe the public should demand a serious probe into this charge, and if it’s found to be baseless, a public recant should be done; and if true, the appropriate action should be taken by the board.

Chester McGibbon
Vice President
Westbury PTA Council