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Handshakes, and Thanks

Thu, 05/23/2024 - 12:25


It’s a sign of a healthy community when you have good people vying for a public position, especially one that can be relatively thankless, like that of school board member. As is obvious to anyone who has followed the discourse in Amagansett or Wainscott lately, passions can run high when it comes to kids’ education — not to mention taxes — and hard words can get thrown around. A school board member needs an empathetic heart and a tough skin.

Barbara Dayton, the Springs School Board’s president who lost her seat in Tuesday’s election, is an example of an upstanding citizen who has worked hard, achieved much, and deserves a tip of the hat. She was a highly effective manager who ran a tight, transparent ship. It was her idea to implement work sessions between regular meetings, for example, a practice that had a positive impact on the overall operations of Springs School. In meetings, Ms. Dayton spoke candidly and from the heart, and made a point to follow the letter of the law and state the purpose of an executive session at the start of each one. (Note: Not every district follows that rule.) She was heavily involved in policy decisions and steered the board through significant administrative changes, a major bond vote, and a major renovation.

Ms. Dayton’s seat will be filled by Dermot Quinn, a first-time candidate who had the endorsement of the Springs Teachers Association, the school’s faculty union. In a district with a large number of families who are new to the United States, Mr. Quinn may have a useful perspective to offer as an immigrant himself: He arrived from Athlone, Ireland, in 1993, and runs a landscaping business. He has also been very involved with Project Most, which plays such an important role in the lives of many Springs students, has served as a coach, and is well liked and well known in the school community. By all accounts, Mr. Quinn is good people, too, and his devotion to the children of Springs is obvious.

If you see Ms. Dayton or Mr. Quinn out on the town this holiday weekend, please give them a handshake, buy them a doughnut, and pat them on the back. We need to do all we can to encourage candidates like these.


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