Challengers sweep Saugerties School Board election

candidates winning sqThey said they wanted to change the way the School Board does things.

Voters said, “go right ahead.”

According to unofficial results of the May 19 vote, School Board challengers Raymond “Mike” Maclary, Robert Thomann and James Mooney have been elected to the School Board, displacing veteran incumbents Don Tucker, Tom Ham and Richard Petramale.

The 2015-16 budget passed overwhelmingly, 1367-805.

There are still 55 absentee ballots to be counted. Conceivably, they could sway the trustee vote if they broke disproportionately (53-2) in favor of the top incumbent vote-getter.


During the campaign, the challengers and incumbents faced off as blocs. The incumbents had the vocal support of Board President George Heidcamp and several other trustees, while the challengers were backed by trustees Krista Barringer and Damion Ferraro, both of whom were elected last year and frequently found themselves at odds with the rest of the board.

These results flip the balance of power on its head, with the Maclary, Thomann, Mooney, Barringer and Ferraro now representing five of the board’s nine votes.

This could mean a change in the board’s leadership.

Vote totals are as follows:

  1. Maclary: 1,307
  2. Mooney: 1,217
  3. Thomann: 1,136
  4. Tucker: 1,086
  5. Petramale: 956
  6. Ham: 838

The race drew heightened attention during the April Common Core standardized tests. Challengers and their supporters criticized the board’s policy for students who opt out of the tests as well as the tone of the board’s communication with concerned parents, particularly at School Board meetings. Incumbents defended the board’s record of transparency, noting that every speaker was given a chance to talk, and directed parents to the district’s policy, which asked them to bring concerns directly to their child’s teachers and principal.

But, as was the case in much of the state, opt outs hit record highs in Saugerties, with between 20 and 30 percent saying no to the tests.

For New York State schools, this was a year for revolt.