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Westbury school board votes to drop election-recount effort

The Westbury school board decided Tuesday night to drop its petition for a state recount of absentee ballots from the May board election decided by one vote.

In a 4-3 vote, the board chose to withdraw its previous request to have state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia do the recount.

In the May 17 school board election for three at-large seats, incumbents Rodney A. Caines, Leslie F. Davis and Laura L. Pierce faced off against challengers Sherley Cadet, Jan R. Figueira, Perelene Kaalund Perpall, Pedro A. Quintanilla and Stanton Brown.

Quintanilla won a seat with 848 votes, as did Brown with 779.

At the end of election night, school board president Pless Dickerson said it appeared Caines had retained his seat. But an affidavit vote later pushed Cadet ahead by one. Affidavit ballots are what poll workers give voters when they can’t be found on the voter list.

Dickerson said the board decided to ask the commissioner for a decision because of the close result. The district cannot do its own recount.

The school district’s attorneys will now send a letter to Elia’s office informing her of the board’s decision to drop the recount effort.

After the commissioner responds, Quintanilla said, he expected Cadet to make a request to be seated on the board and her victory would stand.

Caines, a district resident for 35 years and a school board member since 2010, had said he agreed with the request for the recount.

He will retain his seat at least until Elia responds to the board’s decision, officials said Tuesday night. It remained unclear how long it would take for the commissioner to answer the request, district officials said.

After the board’s vote Tuesday, Cadet expressed frustration at the latest delay in determining a final election outcome but remained confident that eventually she will join the school board.

In the meantime, Cadet said she hopes her supporters turn out for the board’s July 14 meeting.

“I’m going to let the people speak,” she said. “I have faith in them. They’re upset.”

Cadet’s supporters initially applauded Tuesday night’s vote but became angry after the board announced they would need to send a letter to the commissioner before she could be seated.

Several audience members chanted “swear her in!” and said that like Cadet, the process frustrated them.

“We want to be respected as a community,” said Mateo Flores, a Westbury resident and president of the Hispanic United Association.

Others demanded to know why they would have to wait longer for a decision on the final election outcome.

Newly sworn-in board president Robin Bolling told them she understood their frustration, but she said the board is legally required to wait for the commissioner’s response before moving forward.


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