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Four vie for three General Brown school board seats

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DEXTER — Four candidates are vying for two seats on the General Brown Central School District Board of Education, and none of them is an incumbent.

Board President Tasha L. Richards and member Bruce C. Strough opted not to run for re-election, but four hopefuls said they aim to bring new energy to the district.

The election will be from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the junior-senior high school gymnasium, 17643 Cemetery Road. The three-year terms for the two new members begin July 1. A third, one-year term also will be filled, as the seat was left vacant when John Hardy resigned in January.

Here is a look at why the four candidates say they are running:

Sandra Young Klindt

Dr. Klindt, a veterinarian, said running for the school board was something she thought about a few years ago, but she didn’t want to jump into it until she had the time to devote to it. The search for a new superintendent, to replace outgoing Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr., is a process Dr. Klindt said she wants to be a part of.

“When the whole budget mess came about (recently), I started educating myself,” she said. “I think we have to sit down and create a goal of where we want the district to be in five years. If you don’t have a goal, how do you get there?”

Qualities she said she has that will help the district move forward include the ability to think outside of the box, promote more transparency and accept community input.

“I can look beyond what’s best for my kids and see what’s best for the district,” Dr. Klindt said.

She said she is not going in with a specific agenda other than to save the school district.

Dr. Klindt is a member of the Dexter Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization. She lives in the village with her husband, Rodger M., and two children, Evan Y., 12, and Alex J., 9.

Jamie M. Lee

Mrs. Lee, who works at SUNY Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking at Flower Memorial Library in Watertown, said she moved to the district a few years ago because she heard it was good in academics and sports. She too said the district’s potential fiscal and educational insolvency problems motivated her to become more involved.

“There’s so many people making decisions for you,” she said. “How am I as an individual? I always research facts before I make a decision. When this started happening with the school, I saw there seemed to be this disconnect with information. I said, ‘I might as well find out answers.’”

She has had some involvement with government organizations — a wind committee in Clayton and as a fire commissioner for the town of Brownville joint fire district. Mrs. Lee also is secretary of the Thousand Islands Young Leaders Organization.

Mrs. Lee said she is budget conscious, and wants to work toward elimination of negativity that has surrounded the district for the past three years.

She lives in Dexter with her husband, Ryan M., and two children, McKenna R., 6, and Brenden M., 5.

Christopher J. Littell

Mr. Littell, a Pillar Point resident and Watertown Fire Department member, said he is running because he wants to give back to the community that has given so much to him, his wife, Kristy A., and their two children, Colton J., 15 months, and Ashten E., a third-grader at Dexter Elementary.

“I see at these meetings that our district’s at a time of need,” he said. “We’re cutting teachers and it’s a very scary element. I want to be a part of the answer. To watch things unfold in front of me, and not have action involved — I’d regret that. We need to do something for ourselves, as state aid isn’t guaranteed.”

While academics comes first, Mr. Littell said, he also supports the sports program because sports were significant for him growing up.

“I was in sports my whole life, with football in particular,” Mr. Littell said. “I moved around considerably while growing up. As I was moving, one of the things that really worked to my benefit was my family sport of football. It adds so much to the development of students from social characteristics to know what it means to work hard and be dedicated.”

Mrs. Littell is a speech teacher in the district.

Brien M. Spooner

Mr. Spooner, a lieutenant with the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said he is running to “save as much education as we can” for the district’s children.

“They deserve the same opportunities as everyone else,” he said.

He said he’s mad at himself for not keeping up well with the district’s affairs over the last several years, but he felt now was the time to step up and provide fresh ideas for change.

“I’m hoping (the district) can be saved,” Mr. Spooner said. “What can I do? I’ll find out once I get in. I’m hoping to bring new ideas, but I’ve got to get in there to find out what board members can do.”

He said he wants to take a look at changing the formula of how the state Education Department disburses state aid.

“New York ties our hands behind our backs,” he said.

His top goals include elimination of infighting within the district, and bringing the community back together.

Mr. Spooner lives in Dexter with his wife, Cindy, and his two children.

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