Who’s Who: 15 Candidates, 11 Seats

Brief biographies of those running in May 17 election; part one of a series
In the East Hampton School District, four candidates are running for three seats on the school board. From left to right, James Foster, Wendy Geehreng, Alison Anderson, Rich Wilson.

Voters will go to the polls on May 17 to choose new school board members or return incumbents to their posts

Below are brief biographies of candidates in the East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Springs, and Amagansett School Districts. Reports on candidates from the other districts will appear next week.

East Hampton

In the East Hampton School District, four candidates are running for three seats on the school board.

James Foster, the current president of the East Hampton School Board, is running for a second term on the board. Mr. Foster, who is known as J.P., works as senior supervising dispatcher for East Hampton Village and as a real estate agent with Town and Country. He has lived in East Hampton for about 27 years and has two children at East Hampton High School.

First elected in 2013, Mr. Foster was involved in many key decisions over the last three years, including the negotiation of five-year contracts with East Hampton’s sending districts, the institution of bilingual board meetings, talks with the town about affordable housing, and exploring construction of a transportation depot for the district. He said he was running to ensure that the East Hampton School District continues to offer “the best we can give for the kids at the best financial expenditure for the community.”

Rich Wilson is also running for a second term on the school board. He is a retired teacher who taught science in the Sag Harbor School District for 30 years, and owned a toy store in East Hampton Village for about 18 years and one in Amagansett for 3 years. His three children went through East Hampton schools and he has four grandchildren in the schools here now.

Mr. Wilson said he was instrumental in bringing the current science program, the Fully Operational Science System, into the John M. Marshall Elementary School before his first term on the board, and last year helped launch the Invention Convention at the school. He has also been known to speak with businesses and college admissions offices to find out what qualifications they look for in high school graduates. He supports the district’s exploration into making the senior year of high school more challenging.

Wendy Geehreng is also seeking a second term on the school board. She is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital, and has worked in the field for about 16 years. She has four children, including two who attend East Hampton schools and two who attend Blair Academy in New Jersey. She is a native East Hampton resident who has lived here for 35 years.

Ms. Geehreng is running to retain her seat because “we have such momentum now that I just want to bring it forward,” and believes she can help East Hampton continue “to do more with less” in light of the tax cap constraints. She was also involved in many key decisions over the last three years, such as the recording of board meetings by LTV. She said she supported bringing some form of Spanish language education back to the elementary school.

Alison Anderson, who served on the school board from 2010 to 2013, is seeking to return for a second three-year term. A lifelong resident of East Hampton, her past community involvements include teaching religion at the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Parish and serving as a PTA president at East Hampton’s high school and middle school. She studied business at Suffolk County Community College and the State University at Cobleskill.

In a written statement, Ms. Anderson said she was running because she cared about “the quality of education for all children in our diverse community, the working conditions for our educators and school staff, and the financial challenges of our taxpayers.” She said she aimed to be a “positive team player,” hard worker, great listener, and someone who works with other board members to “create a healthy learning and working environment.”

Sag Harbor

Four candidates are vying for two seats on the Sag Harbor School Board.

Susan Kinsella, the current president of the board, is a 15-year resident of the district with two children attending Pierson High School. She has a background in financial auditing. Ms. Kinsella was first elected to the board in 2006 and served until 2009; she was then appointed as a board member in 2012 following a resignation, and won re-election in 2013. She has served on several district committees, including those concerning budgeting and facilities, and was a past president of the Sag Harbor Elementary PTA.

Ms. Kinsella said if elected, she would continue to work with the board and the administration to find ways to share services with other districts, control costs, and bring in new forms of revenue. She also supports the expansion of the International Baccalaureate program to Pierson Middle School and exploring different options for the future of Pierson’s athletic field, whether it be organic grass or a newer artificial option being considered by the district’s educational facilities planning committee.

Regarding the former Stella Maris School, she said the community survey result that favored placing the prekindergarten program and early childhood special education services there was a great suggestion that has the potential to benefit both the district and the community.

Susan Lamontagne is seeking a first term on the school board. Ms. Lamontagne is a 16-year resident of Sag Harbor with two children in the schools here. She is a former journalist and served as press secretary to Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. More recently, she started her own communications and marketing firm, the Public Interest Media Group, which works with nonprofit organizations involved with children’s health, education, and the environment.

As the Long Island coordinator for the group Start School Later, Ms. Lamontagne supports later start times for older students. She opposes the installation of an artificial, crumb rubber turf field at Pierson, and wants more open governance. She said she has concerns related to the tax burden of acquiring the Stella Maris building, whether there is an actual need for the facility, and the closed-door sessions in which the school board came up with potential uses for the property. "We need to explore alternative approaches that might be more fiscally sound." If elected, she said she would work toward providing “a well-rounded and healthy education for the children at a price that the community can sustain and afford.”

Chris Tice, the current vice president of the Sag Harbor School Board, was first elected to the board in 2010. She has three children, including two currently in school here. Ms. Tice is the senior managing director of the Corcoran real estate company in Sag Harbor and Montauk, and previously worked in the publishing and new media industries. She has been a part of several budget cycles in which the district stayed under the tax cap yet maintained and expanded programs for students.

Ms. Tice supports getting an independent, expert analysis on all of the district’s options for playing fields, and said she would support “what is safest for children and affordable for the community.” Regarding Stella Maris, she said she could not advocate for or against its purchase but urged residents to come out and vote either way. She said her priorities, if re-elected, would include supporting the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program, building on career and technical opportunities for students, supporting science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics programming, continuing good fiscal management, and continuing to work with surrounding school districts in beneficial ways.

Roxanne Briggs has lived in Sag Harbor for nearly 30 years. A parent of three daughters, including one current Pierson High School student, she is the former owner of the Punch children’s clothing stores. She now works as a real estate agent with Brown Harris Stevens. Ms. Briggs, a former member of the board of the Hampton Day School, said she is running for school board because she wants to give back to a community that has given her so many opportunities, and said she would like to use her business background to help the district with its day-to-day and long-term logistics.

Ms. Briggs said she does not support any kind of artificial turf field at Pierson. As for the Stella Maris building, she said she respects the work that has gone into the process but is “not convinced that it is a necessary purchase right now.” She supports the expansion of the International Baccalaureate program to the middle school and later school start times. Ms. Briggs would also like to see the cafeteria program expanded at Pierson and would like to see an outdoor seating area where students could have lunch.

Springs

In the Springs School District, three candidates are running for two seats on the board.

Amy Rivera grew up in East Hampton and moved to Springs in 1988. Her three children are graduates of the Springs School and she has a granddaughter currently attending the school. She currently works for East Hampton Town as the deputy tax receiver, a position she has held for four years, with prior experience in the assessor’s office and tax office, totaling 23 years with the town. Ms. Rivera is a former board member of the Springs School PTA and a former vice president of the town’s Civil Service employees’ union. She chose to run for the school board because she wants to enhance student success while being “fair to the faculty and considerate of the taxpayers.”

Ms. Rivera said she was aware of the crowding issues at the school. Should the administration pursue a bond referendum to address them, she said, she would need to look closely at the plans and their impact on the taxpayers, the students, and the school faculty before indicating support. “I am fair, honest, and dedicated to any task I take on,” she said.

Adam Wilson is an incumbent Springs School Board member who is seeking a second term. He has lived in Springs since 2000 and is the parent of an East Hampton High School student. Mr. Wilson works in telecommunications sales for Sagenet, a company based in Reston, Va., which he does remotely from home. He is also a board member of the Springs Little League.

He said he was running for re-election because “I just like to give back to the community.” He would support a bond referendum should the administration choose to put one forth to expand, renovate, or upgrade the school. If re-elected, he said, his priorities would be improving the school board’s relationship with the community, finding more ways to support the district’s Latino population, collaborating more with other school districts, stabilizing the school’s finances, and possibly exploring consolidation again.

David Conlon, a Springs resident since 2008, is the father of three Springs School students. He said he was running for the school board because he wanted to get more involved in the school. Mr. Conlon was a member of the facilities committee that met last summer to find ways to address the school’s overcrowding issue. He has a background in the banking and mortgage field, and more recently made the transition into residential real estate.

He is a board member of the organization Hoops for Hope and he coaches youth baseball and basketball. He said he would support a bond referendum for the expansion or renovation of the Springs School and has some concerns over class sizes if enrollment continues to grow. Mr. Conlon describes his goals as “student-first” and said, “I’m definitely cognizant of the taxpayers in the community. I’m a really strong supporter for making the best school for our kids as possible.”

Bridgehampton

In Bridgehampton, Michael Gomberg and Jennifer Vinski are running unopposed for two seats on the school board.

Michael Gomberg has been a homeowner in Bridgehampton since 2003 and a full-time resident since 2012. He has two school-aged children who attended the Child Development Center of the Hamptons for a year before coming to the Bridgehampton School. Mr. Gomberg has worked for the last 22 years in securities trading after studying accounting and finance at Washington University in St. Louis, and has served on the Bridgehampton School District’s audit and budget committees for the last two years.

He is running for the school board for the second time, having lost a bid for a seat in 2014. His goals include getting more community involvement in the school district and finding ways to save money while still providing great opportunities for the students. He is a supporter of piercing the tax cap this year “but not every year,” he said. “We have to find a long-term solution, and I’m hoping with my background I will be able to help out.”

Jennifer Vinski moved to Brideghampton in 2001, the same year she began working in the Southampton School District as a kindergarten special education teacher. She has three children attending the Bridgehampton School. The three-year term beginning July 1 will be her second on the Bridgehampton School Board.

Ms. Vinski decided to pursue another term because she enjoys having an impact on the direction of the school. She has an eye on future space needs at Bridgehampton, where enrollment is rising and space is getting tight, and is looking to be fiscally responsible while providing great educational opportunities for the students. “I’m passionate about education and about children, and I put my heart and soul into making sure that we provide the best that we can, because it truly affects the future,” she said.

Amagansett

Two candidates are running unopposed for two seats on the Amagansett School Board.

Kristin V. Peterson has lived in Amagansett for five years after previously living in Springs. She is a parent of two Amagansett School students and is a member of the school’s shared-decision-making committee, which brings parent concerns to the school administration. She holds a master’s degree in international affairs and finance from Columbia University and formerly worked as a futures and sovereign analyst for the Bear Stearns credit department. She is the founder of BabyHampton, a natural skin care company for children.

She supports the district’s attempt to pierce the tax cap this year. She hopes to be “the information gatherer and communicator, the link between the school and the public, to make sure that the school maintains its excellent quality, because it’s an important asset to our community and to our children.”

Hank Muchnic is a parent of three Amagansett School children who has been a homeowner here since 1999 and a full-time resident since 2008. He is involved in charitable work, having served on the board of the Gramercy Park Block Association in New York City and the Vestry of St. Thomas’ Chapel in Amagansett. He currently serves on the board of the Muchnic Foundation and volunteers for East Hampton Meals on Wheels. He has also been the president of a New York City co-op and is a member of the board of Valley Company Inc., an investment firm.

He said he has experience with the kind of oversight a school board should provide, and understands that budget issues top the list of big concerns in Amagansett, saying, “It’s a never-ending quest to get it right.”

The candidates for the Wainscott, Sagaponack, and Montauk School Boards will be covered next week.

Correction: An early version of this article published in print and online stated that Susan Lamontagne was a cautious supporter of the Sag Harbor School District's purchase of the former Stella Maris School building. Ms. Lamontagne said that was a mischaracterization of her position and that she does not at this time support the purchase.