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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 21, 2011

No contest at GCSD
Three incumbents, one newcomer run for four school board seats

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — After more than a decade of contested — sometimes hotly — school board campaigns, there will be no race in Guilderland this May.

Four people filed petitions by Monday’s deadline for four slots on the nine-member Guilderland School Board. Three of them are incumbents — Judy Slack, Allen Simpson, and Emilio Genzano. The fourth is newcomer Rose Levy.

Vice President Karen Barber is stepping down after two three-year terms.

The top three vote-getters in the May 17 election will each serve a three-year term. The candidate who comes in fourth will fill out a one-year term. School district voters will also decide on an $89 million budget for next year.

At the same time, the Guilderland Public Library will hold trustee elections as well as a vote on a $3 million budget. The terms for Robert Ganz and Diane Rosenbaum are expiring. Rosenbaum is not seeking re-election. Ganz is the only candidate running, which means the second slot on the 11-member board will have to be filled either through a write-in candidate or by board appointment.

The posts on both the library and school boards are unpaid.

Several of the candidates were away this week because of the school vacation; The Enterprise will run issues-based profiles upon their return. (The Enterprise interviewed the incumbents earlier, available online at www.AltamontEnterprise.com under Guilderland archives for March 24, 2011.)

Levy, an attorney, represents children in Family Court who have been neglected or abused by their parents. She and her husband have five children; four of them are Guilderland students and the fifth is a Guilderland graduate, now in college.

Before Levy and her family moved to Guilderland 13 years ago, she had served on the school board in Newburgh, N.Y.

Levy first expressed interest in the school board last summer when a board member resigned, leaving a vacancy, but she was unable to make the televised interview session and so wasn’t considered for the post.

“Last year, with all the controversy, I really wanted to get involved,” Levy said, referring to budget reductions that, in the wake of reduced state aid and rising pension and health-care costs, led to cutting 56 jobs.

“I love the Guilderland schools,” said Levy, “and I want to see the same quality of education continue.”

Levy said she isn’t running with any set agenda or specific goals. She said, “I just want to keep the quality — not only the academics but the sports and the co-curriculars, too.”

She concluded, “Of course I’d like to see our taxes not go up…I know I have a lot to learn.”

Genzano has been on the school board for two years, because of two separate appointments.

He works as the assistant vice president for engineering and construction at Albany Medical Center and is the father of three children. He had run unsuccessfully for the school board in 2001 and 2002 before being appointed in the fall of 2009. The board chose him over seven other men to fill a seat left vacant by the death of long-time board member John Dornbush.

Then Genzano ran in May 2010 to keep his seat but came in fifth in a six-way race for four seats. Simpson came in fourth so he is now serving the one year left in Dornbush’s term.

Board member Julie Cuneo then left the board in June, because she was moving out of town with her family. Genzano and two other candidates were interviewed for the post in a televised session in July.

Genzano was reappointed in a 7-to-0 vote.

Simpson, an accountant and a father of two Guilderland students, first ran for the board in 2009 — coming in a close fourth in a five-way race for three seats — before winning his seat last year.

The economic downturn has made the job more challenging Simpson said last month when he was considering whether or not to run again. “It’s going to get tougher,” he said.

Simpson serves on the board’s policy, audit, and business practices committees.

Slack has served one three-year term on the board. She began her career as a high-school English teacher, retiring in 2008 after working for 24 years as a teaching assistant at Lynnwood Elementary School. She has three grown children who had varying educational needs, all of which were met at Guilderland, she said.

“It’s so hard when you look at all the choices we have to make,” Slack said last month of her first term on the board.” But, she said, referring to a recent Future City presentation by Farnsworth Middle School students, “That’s why I’m doing it. At the bottom of it all are the kids.”

Asked what she is most proud of accomplishing in her first term, Slack said, “We’re watching a lot slip away but we’ve been able to keep a lot of things whole.”

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