Laura Spencer, President of the Smithtown Teachers’ Association, took to her private social media account on Thursday, April 7, to urge her followers to support incumbent candidates Mike Saidens and Mike Catalanotto for the Smithtown Central School District (SCSD) board of education (BOE). The post featured a prominently displayed banner that read “STA & PBA (Police Benevolence Association) Endorsed” above the names Saidens and Catalanotto.
Shortly after, on April 12, the PBA endorsement webpage was updated to include Saidens and Catalanotto as among those in receipt of the coveted endorsement.
This represents a stark departure from the previous SCSD BOE, which saw the STA and PBA take opposite sides of an incredibly controversial and divisive election in what is usually a mundane affair. A representative of the PBA was not available for comment at the time of publication, nor was a representative of the STA.
Following last year’s election, which resulted in the defeat of the STA-backed incumbents, Spencer began publicly courting the PBA. In a June 30 Twitter post, the PBA acknowledged a productive meeting between the STA and PBA regarding “increasing positive police engagement between students and our law enforcement officers.”
Since then, there have been dozens of interactions between students and police officers at all schools in the SCSD.
Then, as reported by The Messenger, the PBA took to Facebook on April 1 to say, “We’re happy to say our brothers and sisters in the Smithtown Teachers’ Association were instrumental in helping us affect positive change.”
Few politicos in Smithtown were shocked by the endorsement, which was seen as a natural consequence of the STA’s endorsement of PBA-backed candidate Michael Simonelli in the Thirteenth Legislative District last November.
Whether or not this united front is enough to quell the contentious race is yet to be seen.