Readers Write: Grading my projections on PW school board vote

Readers Write: Grading my projections on PW school board vote

I’m pleased that my projections of how the school voting would go two days ago vs. how the voting actually went were as close as they were. I am depressed by how “rigged” (undemocratic) the voting is, however, and over the disastrous path that our school district is leading our community down. Here are my comments on the voting. I hope that you find some of them, of interest:

  1. Total votes cast: I projected that 2,914 votes would be cast. 3,264 votes were actually cast, 350 more votes than I had projected. That’s not an awful lot more, considering that there are supposed to be 22,400 registered voters in Port Washington. I have to split the reason for the 350 vote increase between the efforts of the organized mothers and Dr. Jonathan Geisler and Robert “Bob” Young being in the race for school board seats.

Since Emily Beys received 212 more votes than I had projected she would receive (see below), I have to attribute that much of the 350 vote increase to the efforts of the organized mothers. The balance of the increase, 138 votes, I then must attribute to Geisler and Young being on the ballot. Frank Russo and his PWEA organization ran a very late campaign, urging voters to vote no on the budget and to vote for Young.

However, since there were actually 52 fewer no votes cast on the budget than I had projected would be cast, I can’t credit Frank Russo/PWEA with having increased the voter turnout at all.  The tally of 3,264 votes represents 14.6 percent of the registered voters in Port Washington. It’s certainly not a voter turnout that we can shout about, but it is an improvement over the 10 percent or less turnout that we usually have. I had projected a 13 percent voter turnout, so I was very close to reality.

2. There were 2,517 yes votes cast for the budget, whereas I had projected that there would be 2,115 yes votes cast. I was very close. The difference in the yes votes actually cast, 402 over what I had projected, I attribute to the increase in the number of mothers voting, 212 (see Beys, above) and to 190 Young and Geisler voters, who hesitated to vote no. A count of 2,517 votes represents 77 percent of the total votes cast. I had projected that percentage would be 73 percent. I was darn close. The yes percentage last year was 80 percent, which was an unusually high result, but there was no one calling for a no vote, like Bob Young, last year.

3. There were 747 no votes actually cast on the budget, whereas I had projected that 799 no votes would be cast. I think that this was some good projecting on my part. The difference of 52 votes is not worth speculating about. The tally of 747 no votes represents 23 percent of the total votes cast, whereas I had projected that the percentage would be 27 percent. Again, the small difference is not worth speculating about. However, I do believe that there’s an important lesson to be learned here by anyone opposing proposed school budgets, from the voting results that I’ve just summarized. The lesson involves what kind of an effort is required to defeat a proposed school budget and what kind of effort is required to seat an outsider, anti-entrenched power school board member, on the board. That lesson will have to be detailed in another message.

4. Beys received 2,252 votes to retain her board seat. I had projected that she would receive 2,040. The difference is only 212 votes. Again, I think that was some good projecting on my part. How did I get to 2,040 votes for Mrs. Beys? I noted that last year, Mrs. Nora Johnson, the current vice president of our school board, ran unopposed to retain her seat on the board. She received 1,653 votes last year, as an unopposed candidate. All of those votes had to come from “hardcore mothers” of the various mothers’ groups associated with our school district.

I assumed that because Beys and Deborah Abramson-Brooks were facing competition for board seats this year, that the organized mothers would work their phone banks and their child messenger services overtime to increase the number of “hardcore mothers” going to the polls to vote last Tuesday. I thought that increase would be 300 mothers. And then, I thought that Beys and Abramson-Brooks would each receive 75 votes from new voters brought to the polls for the first time this year, by Geisler. Thus, 1,653, plus 300, plus 75 equals 2,028, which I rounded up to 2,040.

5. Abramson-Brooks received 2,119 votes to win a seat on our school board, whereas I had projected that she would receive 2,040 votes. The difference between her actual vote count and my projected vote count for her, 79 votes, is not significant enough to discuss. Again, I think that my projecting here, was very good. I projected 2,040 votes for Abramson-Brooks, the same way that I projected votes for Beys.

6. Young received 550 votes, whereas I had projected that he would receive 799 votes. Last year, 20 percent of the voters, 449 of them, voted no on the budget. I assumed that those same 449 voters would again vote no on the budget this year and that they would also vote for Young, since he opposed this year’s proposed budget. In addition to that, I assumed that the efforts of Young and Russo would together easily produce another 350 votes for Young. Thus, 449 votes, plus 350 votes equaled 799 votes. I don’t think that Bob Young and Frank Russo together accomplished what I thought they would. As you see, my projection of votes for Bob Young was wide of the mark by 249 votes. I think that proves that projecting votes for a first-time, outsider, underdog candidate, is very difficult.

Geisler, another first-time outsider, underdog candidate, received 745 votes. I had projected that he would receive 949 votes. I arrived at a projected vote count of 949 for him, the same way I arrived at the projected 799 vote count for Bob Young above, plus 150 additional votes, that I thought that Geisler would bring to the polls through his own efforts. Again, my projection here was wide of the mark. This time by 204 votes.

8. I believe that Young and Geisler are both well-qualified to serve on our school board. It was brave of each of them to challenge the entrenched power structure that dominates our school board and to seek a seat on the board. I believe that the relatively poor showing by both Young and Geisler at the polls this year, proves that if an outsider wants to challenge the entrenched power structure in our school district and succeed, then the outsider must run an extensive campaign. This would have to extend over at least four months starting in January to earn the votes of thousands of voters who never come to the polls to vote and also the votes of many voters who do usually come to the polls. It can be done, but it requires much planning, much publicity and exposure, and probably, the helpful financing of a political action committee.  I know that neither Young Geislerran that sort of a campaign this year.

Joel Katz (from the barricades)

Port Washington

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