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Onteora CSD Appoints New Board Member After Commissioner of Education Responds to Request for Recount

The Onteora Central School District Board of Education has announced that it anticipates the appointment of Kristy Taylor to fill a vacant seat on the Board. She will take her oath of office during a Board meeting on Tuesday, August 16. The meeting will begin at 5 PM at Onteora Middle/High School.

Taylor ran for a seat on the Board of Education during the May 17 elections, coming in fourth place behind Leon Savage by a handful of votes. The first two seats were won by Sarah Hemingway Lynch and Meghann Reimondo; however, the discovery of irregularities with the vote tallies prevented announcing the winner of the third Board seat.

“After the polls closed the evening of the vote, election officials discovered that the polling machines recorded eight more votes than were reflected in the poll lists,” explained Superintendent of Schools Victoria McLaren. The steps taken by the election officials to remedy the situation resulted in human error, which caused incorrect voter tallies to be certified. This prompted the Board of Education to request a recount.

“The vote count separating the third and fourth place candidates was very narrow–only seven votes–so the Board of Education felt that the proper action would be to request a recanvass and recount,” said McLaren.

Under Education Law, once the ballots are sealed at the end of the night, only the Commissioner of Education may order a recount. On May 27, 2022, the District petitioned Commissioner Betty A. Rosa for a recount and has now been advised that its request has been dismissed. She did not find sufficient evidence to indicate that the outcome of the election would have been different, or that the fundamental fairness of the election was impaired, which is the criteria needed to order a recount.

According to McLaren, since the Commissioner dismissed the Board’s request for a recount, Savage was declared the official winner of the seat. However, since he has already declined to accept the seat, it is once again considered vacant. In this scenario, the Board of Education had the option of either holding another election, appointing a candidate of its choosing, or leaving the seat vacant until the next election in May 2023.

The Board offered Taylor the seat on Friday, August 13, and she has accepted. Her term will expire on May 16, 2023.