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Sunday, March 26, 2023

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School Board Results: Smithtown, Kings Park, Hauppauge, and Commack


The results are as follows:

Smithtown CSD

The budget was approved with a final vote of 5,250 – 2,460. Proposition #2 to establish a capital reserve fund passed with a final vote of 5,249 – 2,241

Incumbent Michael Catalanotto retained his seat against challenger Charles Fisher with a final vote of 4,582 – 3,201. Incumbent Michael Saidens claimed victory over challenger Angela Kouvel with a final vote of 4,582 – 3,201.

Despite comparable levels of turnout, grassroots organizers were unable to pull off a repeat of last year’s election results which saw three incumbents blindsided by challengers running against mandates and other hot-button issues of that cycle.

The results indicate the waning of pandemic-related concerns such as masking and vaccination mandates. At the same time, the results show the collective strength of the two unions involved in this race, the Smithtown Teachers’ Association (STA), an affiliate of NYSUT, and the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association (PBA).

This year’s endorsement of the incumbents by the PBA caught many off guard, as last year’s endorsement of the challengers propelled them to victory. However, as previously reported by The Messenger, the STA likely secured a deal with the PBA this race to ensure that the STA-backed incumbents would face minimal resistance.

In the weeks leading up to the election, the Smithtown CSD flaunted its police connections quite openly in regular press releases showing many police-oriented activities in the district. In last year’s election, opposition candidates that claimed victory pointed to online resources available to students and some teachers they alleged had an anti-police bias.

“They don’t care about the police,” said one parent. “It’s electioneering plain and simple, just like the letters we’ve been getting from the district.”

This reference may have been made in response to two letters the district sent out recently. Prior to the election, parents in the community received two letters from the superintendent. The first letter outlined the district’s commitment to communication, while the second was seemingly directed at comments made by Michael Simonelli at a board meeting relating to LGBT education.

In a previous interview with a spokesperson for the Suffolk PBA, they expressed the utmost confidence in their preferred candidates (Catalanotto and Saidens) and stressed their working relationship – confidence that was rightfully placed.

Kings Park CSD: 

The budget was approved by a final vote of 2,229 – 1,125. 

In the at-large election, these are the results: 

*Pat Hanley 1,879 

*Shala Pascucci 1,737 

Jaime Lelle 1,529 

Doug Cerrato 1,490 

*Won 3-year term 

The election had a record turnout, mimicking the increase in school board turnout for other districts this year and last. The increased political polarization around the country and the increase in the importance of education-related issues to voters no doubt played a part in addition to campaign activities, which were more intense this year than in recent memory in Kings Park. 

What differentiates this race from the race in Smithtown this year and connects it to the race last year was how the constellation of actors aligned themselves. The union representing Kings Park teachers staunchly supported Hanley and Pascucci, while Cerrato and Lelle were supported by the Suffolk County PBA. 

The Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association even went so far as to pass a motion of no confidence against Cerrato and Lelle prior to the vote. 

The victory seems to have been aided by younger voters turned out by their participation in progressive activism, in which Pascucci is also involved. 

Another differentiating factor that separates the Kings Park election from the Smithtown election is incumbency. The Kings Park seats were open sits, so neither Hanley nor Pascucci had to defend board actions that angered parents all through the pandemic. In fact, in their interviews with The Messenger, they were able to criticize past board actions. Not being tied to the board, allowed the differences between the Pascucci and Hanley and Cerrato and Lelle to be obfuscated, while at the same time, sitting board members utilized their personal social media accounts and community connections to aid Pascucci and Hanely. 


The budget was approved by a final vote of 639 – 300. There were three seats up for election. The election results are as follows: David Barshay: 624 Michael Buscarino: 6510 Rob Scarito: 617 David Barshay and Rob Scarito are incumbents. Michael Buscarino is replacing outgoing board member Gary Fortmeyer and is a former board member himself. 


The budget in Commack passed with a vote of 2392 – 815. Steve Hartman defeated Pailine Fidalgo by a vote of 2,777 – 877. Justine Varghese defeated Christopher Jurkovic by a vote of 2,247 – 893. 

Brian R. Monahan
Brian R. Monahan
News Editor for The Messenger Papers.