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Smithtown schools trustee won't run again

Smithtown school district trustee Joseph Saggese, a former vice president of the body who frequently battled board members over such things as spending, does not plan to seek re-election.

Saggese, 57, an accountant with an office in Smithtown, said in an interview that "it was time to move on" after six years. He said he succeeded in pushing for the 14-school district to contain costs without decimating services.

"I thought that two terms was enough; and we kind of got accomplished what we wanted to get done," he said. "It's running now as it should be with the 2 percent [state tax] cap, and that's really forcing the issue."

Saggese's likely replacement in July will be first-time candidate Matthew Morton. Morton and incumbent Christopher Alcure, 40, will run unopposed for two board seats. The deadline was Monday for candidates to file petitions supporting their bids. Votes will be cast statewide on May 15 for school trustees and budgets.

Saggese frequently was at odds with other board members on issues such as district spending. He chaired a committee that led negotiations with teachers on a new five-year contract but cast the lone vote against the package last week. He had said negotiations should be postponed until the new superintendent takes office in July.

Board president Gladys Waldron, who often clashed with Saggese during meetings, said Tuesday she was not surprised he is stepping aside.

"As my mother used to say to me: If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything," Waldron said. "No comment."

Saggese acknowledged he had strained relations with board members. "It was a different mindset, a different agenda," he said.Former school board president Robert Rossi said he and Saggese had fought to control spending. "I guess he decided he couldn't continue to do this uphill battle," he said.

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