School Board Candidates Face Off on May 6

Suzanne Seiden and Bob Harrison, vying for outgoing school board member Jeffrey Blatt's seat, will likely face-off in a candidates forum hosted by the Scarsdale LWV next week.

Contested school board elections are a rare occurence in Scarsdale, but this year, Bob Harrison is shaking up the status quo once again.

On April 20, Harrison, who unsuccessfully ran for village trustee in 1999, submitted to the Board of Education a petition signed by 67 residents, thus allowing him to run for Jeffrey Blatt's expiring seat on the board.

The School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) last month nominated Suzanne Seiden to the same seat.

The non-partisan organization, comprised of 30 members, also re-nominated current board members Jill Spieler and Liz Guggenheimer to their respective seats. Lewis Leone was nominated to finish out Joel Gurin's term, since he recently resigned from his position after accepting a job in Washington, D.C.

Patch's inquiries for comment to Seiden this week weren't returned, but a website supporting her candidacy states that she is "a tireless volunteer at all levels of the Scarsdale school system and in our community.

"[Seiden] has continuously demonstrated a passion for the critical issues facing our school district as well as a capacity to work with others to deliver meaningful results."

Harrison, though, believes he is the best candidate for the position.

"I don't think Suzanne can match my record; she certainly can't match my expertise in finance," he said. Harrison cited Mary Beth Gose as the only current board member with extensive experience working in finance.

Ken Keats, former Chair of the SBNC whose three-year term expired last month, said, "of the candidates that we had, we thought we selected the four best."

Keats, who led the SBNC's meetings and was a non-voting member, said Seiden was chosen because of her "overall background," including her extensive volunteerism in her three children's schools.

On May 6, the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale (LWVS) will host a school board candidates forum at the Scarsdale Public Library. While current board members Liz Guggenheimer and Jill Spieler, as well as newcomer Lewis Leone, are running uncontested, the LWVS has invited all candidates to participate in the forum.

"The League sponsors candidate forums to provide a venue for citizens to become informed decision makers," said Jane Veron, LWVS President.

"As far as I know," Keats said, Seiden plans to attend the forum.

Harrison told Patch that he plans to address multiple issues at the forum, as outlined in a letter to the editor published earlier today.  He said he believes Scarsdale could still maintain a high quality education while increasing the district's use of reserves, "bending the curve" on teacher salaries, and "reducing property taxes to help bring in young families of different means."

Harrison said that his run against Seiden is partially intended to "educate the Scarsdale community on the issues" and that traditionally low voter turnout could be increased if the SBNC " nominated more than the number of spots available and had those people discuss educational and financial issues publicly."

Keats said he had "no comment" regarding Harrison's candidacy and "the way the system is supposed to work is that there aren't issues."

The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale will hold a Candidates Forum in the Scott Room at the Scarsdale Public Library on Thursday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m. The forum will include an opportunity for school board candidates to speak. A Q&A will follow. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. For more information, contact Jane Veron at (914) 472-2933.

Jaclyn Bruntfield May 01, 2010 at 03:34 PM
UPDATE: We've heard back from Suzanne Seiden and Jill Spieler; they both plan to participate in Thursday's forum.


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