SALMON RIVER — The capital project defeated in March is the biggest issue raised by four candidates competing for two five-year seats on the Salmon River Central School Board.
Incumbents Emily Lauzon and Judy Stark are challenged by Roger LaPage and Peter Ghostlaw.
The Press-Republican asked each of them what they believe is the biggest challenge facing the district and how they would tackle it. Here’s what they had to say:
Roger LaPage: “We should be using effective communication to make information available. Schools need to talk to parents and staff. We need to keep the budget reasonable and look for ways to reduce the tax burden.
“I think you need to sit down with the Board of Education and with the superintendent, and the superintendent has to work with the board, too — it’s a two-way street.
Emily Lauzon: She believes the biggest challenge to the district is “improving our buildings.
“I thought we did a great job on educating our community on what needs to be changed with the capital project we’re working on. I think it’s so important to improve the technology and make sure the school system is a safe environment.
“And as (School Board) vice president for the past year, I’ve been about transparency.
“And I believe common sense is one of the best tools you can use.”
Judy Stark: “A capital project we had was voted down in March; we’re looking to revise that and bring it to the voters again. There is an infrastructure project that needs to be taken care of and some physical concerns.”
Stark, an incumbent, said that her plan is to work with the architect and reach out to the community for more input.
“We’re concerned about the timing of this as far, as the financial aspect. I’m a longtime member of the Audit Committee, so I’m very familiar with the budget and where the sources of aid come from. All this adds to my experience.
“I also worked on the committee that renewed the contract between New York state and Salmon River Central for the education of St. Regis Mohawk children.”
Peter Ghostlaw: “We need to have more open communication and get more input from the district on what they want to see happen at the schools as far as capital projects. I’m all for capital projects, but not with all the frills we have now.
“In the past, people have voted for capital projects and didn’t get what they voted for — the infrastructure would be collapsing around the project. You don’t build an addition to your house if the house is falling down around it.”
If elected, he said, he would handle the problem with “open forums to have people come in and describe to them what’s happening and how we’re going to spend the money.”
Education: Salmon River Central graduate, bachelor of science in education from SUNY Plattsburgh.
Occupation: Co-owner of Stark's Gravel and Excavations.
Previous school-board experience: 15 years on School Board.
Civic Organizations: Director and treasurer of Westville Historical Organization; Farm Bureau member.
Family: Husband, Howard; three adult children, Heather, Aaron and Melissa; three grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor's degree in labor relations and business economics from SUNY Potsdam.
Occupation: Assistant general manager for Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort.
Previous school-board experience: 13 years on School Board. Participated with the Perkins Advisory Board at SUNY Canton and a member of the North Country Community College Advisory Board.
Family: Husband, Harold; four adult children, Alison, Kim, April, and Murray; five grandchildren.
Education: High School at Salmon River Central; some college.
Occupation: Retired state correction officer.
Civic organizations: Sons of American Legion; Sons of AMVETS; Salmon River Athletic Hall of Fame secretary; past president of Salmon River Elementary PTO; coach for youth and high-school sports.
Family: Wife, Linda; two daughters, Samantha, 17, and Ashley 12.
Education: Attended Fort Covington High School, then earned a GED.
Occupation: Retired transportation supervisor at Salmon River Central School.
Civic organizations: Past member of the Fort Covington Volunteer Fire Department.
Family: Wife, Alice; two grown daughters, Jane Cooke and Jill Decastro.