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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Unethical Campaigning in a Nonpartisan Smithtown BOE Race


Patty Stoddard, chairwoman of the Smithtown Democratic Party and retired Smithtown teacher, has been campaigning for three candidates for Smithtown Central School District school board, claiming the three as conservative, with others claiming she suggested Republican and Conservative parties of Smithtown back her candidates.

Yet her preferred candidates, Matt Gribbin, Vlad Pean and Nick De Bello, are not backed by any political organization, despite the strong support they have received from the Democratic Party chairwoman. Stoddard sent out an email on April 24 from her personal email account supporting the Gribbin-led slate.

In his reaction to this revelation, Gary Forte, chairman of the Smithtown Conservative Party, stated: “This is not a political election; none of the candidates are backed by any political party; what they are backed by community-values. Patty Stoddard is making this a political election by falsely claiming that she is a representative of the Conservative Party and the Republican Party of Smithtown. She is claiming that the people she represents are the candidates for both of those parties, which is not true.“

Forte then confirmed that “The Conservative Party and the Republican Party have not endorsed any candidate for the Smithtown Board of Education” before adding, “Patty Stoddard is a far[1]left, woke, Democrat, who is using this as a platform to push her far-left woke candidates to further indoctrinate the students in Smithtown.”

“The problem we have with her is that she is falsely representing herself as a conservative to our conservative constituents,” he added. “This is not acceptable.”

The Smithtown Democratic Party was not reachable by phone prior to the time of publication.

In other election news, reports have also come from the Smithtown Central School District that official district email addresses have been used for electioneering purposes, with the email directing staff and faculty in the Smithtown Teachers’ Association (STA) to check their personal emails for an email reminding them to campaign for Gribbin, Pean, and De Bello.

Images of the emails are now circulating on Facebook as campaign fodder.

The Smithtown Central School District would not comment as it was a personnel matter, but The Messenger has a FOIL request pending to independently verify these claims.

The Messenger has also come into possession of an email from Dr. Mark Secaur, also circulating online, reminding district employees that electioneering using school resources is “impermissible” and may result in disciplinary action.

According to a district spokesperson, the Smithtown Central School District does not comment on personnel matters.

Both incidents have played to the advantage of John Savoretti, Kevin Craine and Elena Guttieri, whose supporters have taken to Facebook to lambast the STA for its involvement in the election.

Claims of electioneering from the Smithtown Central School District are hardly novel. In the 2021 election cycle, there were claims that school district property was being used to store campaign materials for STA-backed candidates.

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