A candidate for the Eastport-South Manor school board who has a manslaughter conviction said Wednesday night he planned to stay in the race, according to a text message he sent during a candidate forum and read aloud by the event’s moderator.
George Cermak, 48, sent the text during the 90-minute forum at Eastport-South Manor Junior-Senior High School. In the message, read to an audience of about 50 by moderator Ellen Shore, Cermak said he is still a candidate but chose not to attend the event because his “presence may cause the meeting to go in the wrong direction.”
Cermak, the owner of auto glass companies in Center Moriches and Roslyn, also said in the text that he had been “harassed by news outlets all day.”
He told Newsday May 4 that he was withdrawing from the race but he hadn’t filed the required paperwork by the close of business Wednesday, a district spokeswoman said. He has until Monday to exit the race, the district’s clerk has said.
Cermak pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in 1995, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office. He was incarcerated between September 1995 and May 1997 and completed his parole in May 1999, according to the state Department of Corrections.
State education law does not preclude convicted felons from running for school board if they have completed their sentences and parole.
In his text Wednesday night that Shore read aloud, he described the attack on the street “by nine guys” and said he ultimately “got the better of them and my girlfriend’s life was saved, although the state said I went a little too far.”
Cermak earlier Wednesday did not respond to a request for comment.
In an interview last week with Newsday, Cermak said “that was a fight 25 years ago,” when asked about the 1995 felony conviction in the fatal stabbing of an Amityville man in 1993.
School board president Donna Moeller and trustee Patricia Harran are running for re-election, facing challenges from Cermak, Jeffrey Goldhammer, Cheryl Hack and Brian Rocha. Board terms are for three years.
After Shore read Cermak’s text message, those attending the meeting urged Shore to ask if he was still a candidate. Shore later stated Cermak responded “of course” he was still in the race. Another audience question read aloud asked “Have you ever been convicted of a crime and if so what was that crime?”
All five candidates in attendance answered no.
With Stefanie Dazio