Horan overcomes lawsuit to garner most votes

Timothy Horan, election night

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair
Top vote-getter Timothy Horan and his wife, Barbara Horan, are both career teachers at Guilderland and have both been active in the teachers’ union for years.

GUILDERLAND — Timothy Horan, a 30-year career teacher set to retire at the end of the school year, won over 25 percent of the vote, making him the clear frontrunner in a five-way race for three school board seats.

“Real good night,” said Horan after the tally was announced Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, all of the school and library propositions sailed through.

Horan came out on top with 1,495 votes despite a lawsuit filed against him last week by parents Stephen and Heather Leader, who claim that he kept their child in his classroom all day and did not let her go to the nurse’s office, after she broke both of her wrists in a fall from playground equipment one morning last October. The child, then 7, was in Horan’s second-grade class at the time.

Their attorney, Timothy Brennan, a partner in Phelan, Phelan & Danek, told The Enterprise Wednesday that he wants to respect the integrity of the judicial process, but would simply say that, not only did the girl break both wrists, but “the left was broken clean through.” That she sat in the classroom all day with that injury, Brennan said, “speaks volumes about what was going on in that classroom.”

Horan was put on leave for several weeks after the incident. After he returned, the Leaders’ child was moved to another classroom.

Deputy Chief Curtis Cox of the Guilderland Police told The Enterprise on Tuesday that the incident remained under investigation, and that the incident was “not closed, but pending.” He added, “We are waiting for more direction from the victim’s family.”

Cox has an election sign supporting Horan in his front yard. Cox said that he is not connected to the investigation. “The investigation is being handled by our criminal investigation unit, supervised by our senior investigator,” he said. Cox’s son was a former student of Horan’s, and the candidate approached the son about placing a lawn sign at the home, Cox said.

 

X-rays show the broken and displaced left radius — “broken clean through,” her family’s attorney said — of a student in Timothy Horan’s Pine Bush Elementary School second-grade class.

 

Horan was the only candidate backed by the Guilderland Teachers’ Association. His wife, Barbara Horan, who is also a career elementary-school teacher in the district, is the union’s executive vice president at Guilderland Elementary School. Last year’s exit-poll survey showed that 7.2 percent of voters were teachers.

The Leaders are also both teachers, she an eighth-grade teacher at Niskayuna and he a technology teacher at Ichabod Crane Middle School in Valatie.

Judy Slack, a retired teacher’s assistant at Guilderland, came in second with 22.5 percent of the vote (1,321votes). She has served on the board for nine years.

In third place was Christopher McManus with 1,146 votes, or 19.5 percent. McManus is finishing his first three-year term and serving as the board’s vice president. In an email on Wednesday, McManus called himself “a board member that understands that the right decisions are not always the most popular decisions.” He added, referring to defeated candidates Allan Simpson and Sean Maguire, “I hope that Allan and Sean will both continue to be involved in the board process.”

Maguire, making his first run for the school board received 1,126 votes, or 19.2 percent.

Allan Simpson, who has served on the board since 2010, including as its president, came in last with 782 votes, or 13.3 percent. Simpson, an accountant, was the only one of the nine board members who voted “no” on the adoption of the budget. Simpson explained why, during his campaign, saying that, rather than add to the district’s reserves, it would have been better to focus on not raising taxes at all.

While waiting for the preliminary results on Tuesday night, Maguire said, “Either way, I’m happy with the whole campaign. A lot of great conversations with the community. I really enjoyed Meet the Candidates Night. The only thing I regret is I wish we had more time for questions from the audience. We’ll see.”

The race for third place between McManus and Maguire had been too close to call — with just 19 votes separating them — on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, because of affidavit ballots and write-in votes, said Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders on Wednesday morning.

Sanders explained that the district has 17 “affidavit votes” — paper ballots from people who “believe that they are eligible to vote,” but whom the district cannot confirm are or are not registered. Those people can fill out paper ballots, Sanders said, which allows the district time to look into their registration status with the Albany County Board of Elections.

The district also received a number of write-in votes. “Even though the candidates’ names appear on the ballot, some people write in the names,” Sanders said.

 

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair
Long-serving: Barbara Fraterrigo, who is serving her seventh three-year term on the board, talks with Judy Slack, who is completing her third term and was up for re-election this year.

 

Budget landslide

The school budget for next year of $98,484,110 passed, with 1,963 votes in favor, or 74.8 percent, and 663 votes, or 25.2 percent, against.

“That’s three to one. That’s pretty nice,” said Slack to Superintendent Marie Wiles.

The $98.5 million budget increases spending over this year by 1.96 percent and will cause a tax-levy increase of 2.11 percent. Residents of Guilderland, which makes up the lion’s share of the district, will see taxes increase by 1.61 percent.

Two other school-district propositions also passed. A $10 million capital reserve fund will be set up, passing 1,901 to 668. And the district will be able to spend up to $1,071,500 for seven big buses, two small buses, one bus that accommodates wheelchairs, and two trucks for snow plowing. The bus proposition passed, 1,944 to 670.

Library votes

The library budget of $4,038,583 passed, too, with 1,860 votes in favor and 733 against. A Guilderland Public Library budget has never been voted down. The public library follows school-district boundaries but elects its own trustees who propose the budget.

Three candidates were running for three seats on the library board. Kaitlin Downey, making her first run for the board, got the most votes, with 1,645. She works for the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene on a grant to reduce heroin and opioid use. She said she has loved reading since she was a child and is committed to lifelong learning.

Incumbent Peter Hubbard came in second with 1,614 votes. He works for the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and has lived in Guilderland all his life.

Downey and Hubbard will each serve five-year terms, which begin in July, as they received the most votes.

Nareen Rivas came in third with 1,566 votes. She will fill out the term left vacant by the death of David Bosworth. Her term begins as soon as she is sworn in and expires on June 30, 2016.

Rivas, making her first run for the library board,  had worked as a teacher in special education in New York City before becoming a stay-at-home mother. Her last position was an evaluation coordinator for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. She said the Guilderland library “offers a wonderful sense of community.”


Corrected on May 18, 2017: The original budget figure for the Guilderland School District next year was corrected to $98,484,110.

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