Turner in, Ehrbar out of race

Turner in, Ehrbar out of race

Herricks School Board President Christine Turner declared her intention to run for re-election last week as Paul Ehrbar announced plans to step down from his seat on the Herricks board at last Thursday night’s meeting.

Turner is a 21-year veteran of the school board, having served as either president or vice president for 14 years during that stretch. She said she feels her experience is an asset to the board as it steers the school district through the current state financial crisis.

“Anybody can bail out,” she said. “I’d like to stay and help to solve the problems as much as I can.”

Along with her experience as a board member, Turner is a former educator. She was the director of a private pre-school in Garden City for 23 years and also taught elementary school.

Ehrbar, who is the mayor of Williston Park, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve on the board, but said he was stepping down because of scheduling conflicts between his job as mayor and his obligations on the school board. “Due to my other duties, I can’t get to all the meetings,” Ehrbar said.

He was appointed to his seat on the school board two years ago.

Jonai Singh, co-president of the Herricks Council of Parent Teachers Associations, recently announced plans to run for Ehrbar’s seat amid rumors that Ehrbar was stepping aside.

“I have a lot to offer. I’m a person who’s connected not just with parents who have children in the community. I’m a person who’s connected with the senior citizens and all the ethnics groups within the community,” Singh said when she announced her candidacy.

There has been speculation among district residents that another candidate would emerge to challenge Singh for the board seat.

After last night’s meeting, resident activist Jim Gounaris revealed that he had picked up petitions to enable him to collect signatures for both the seat that Ehrbar is vacating and the school board president’s seat. But he said he remains undecided about his plans to make a run for the board.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Gounaris said.

A race between Singh and Gounaris would be an intriguing face-off. Both are parents with children attending schools in the district.

As co-president of the PTA Council, Singh is an unabashed advocate for the school district who has high visibility in the district. She is also president of the Indo-US Community, a non-profit group that helps Indian families acclimate when they move into the district.

Gounaris, who regularly attends school board meetings, would likely cast himself as a fiscal conservative who would play the role of watchdog on school district spending.

When Turner revealed an amended contract proposal from the Herricks Teachers Association at Thursday night’s meeting, Gounaris immediately asked her to explain what concessions the the board had sought from the teachers, but Turner refused to enumerate (see story, p. ).

Turner, who has lived in the district with her husband, Charles, for 36 years. They raised a son and a daughter who attended Herricks school from kindergarten through high school. She had been co-president of the PTAs at the Center Street School and the Herricks Middle School when her children were attending them.

She has received a distinguished service award from the Herricks PTA and was recognized for her long-standing service last fall with a citation from the Herricks Indo-US Community.

“A community is comprised of people in many different economic situations. We have to be sensitive to the entire community,” Turner said in a statement she released announcing her plans to seek another term as board president.



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