Peirez wins race for Great Neck school board

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A former Lakeville Elementary School teacher, Donna Peirez, defeated six other candidates Tuesday to win  election to the Great Neck school board.
Peirez received 848 of the 1,869 total votes, or about 45 percent, to beat Donald Panetta, Josh Ratner, Nikolas Kron, Nicholas Toumbekis, Lori Beth Schwartz and Grant Toch.
Kron received 384 votes, Ratner received 224, Schwartz received 199, Toch received 117, Panetta received 49  and Toumbekis received 48.
Peirez said she was grateful for those who voted in the election and the number of candidates who stepped forward for the seat, which had been held by Monique Bloom.
“It was heart-warming to see the amount of interest there was in the position on the school board from the community,” she said. “The number of candidates for the position shows how much everyone cares about the children and the success of the school district.”
Peirez taught first grade for 28 years in the district before retiring in June. Before teaching in the district, she served on the Parent Teacher Associations of the former Kensington-Johnson Elementary School, E.M. Baker Elementary School, North Middle School and North High School.
“As a longtime resident and advocate for the children of Great Neck, becoming a part of the Board of Education is another way in which I can serve the community and maintain the high educational standards of Great Neck,” she said.
Peirez said she thinks what resonated most with voters was “the fact that the children come first in my thoughts.”
She will be sworn in at the Board of Education’s Dec. 12 meeting to finish the remainder of Bloom’s term, which ends in May 2019. The meeting begins at 8:30 p.m.
“I would like any constituent in the community to feel that they can contact me, talk to me, express their concerns, their wishes, their ideas,” Peirez said. “I want to bring everybody into the tent.”
She added that she wanted to continue working with her opponents in the election because “each of them has a background that will add something positive to the workings of the board.”
Kron, a former strategy consultant for Ernst & Young and Cap Gemini S.A. and an entrepreneur, said he wishes Peirez luck during her tenure as school board trustee and that he thinks voter turnout was “phenomenal.”
“I’m proud that seven candidates gave up their time and effort to want to work and participate with this board for the good of our children and the whole district,” he said. “I am proud that I got some tremendous support and would like to continue to work with the board and share additional perspectives with them going forward.”
While campaigning, Kron said, it was interesting to see that a high number of residents were not registered voters in the district.
“It’s important that all the residents on the peninsula get behind candidates and ideals that they believe in,” he said. “If people believe in certain candidates, they need to get out and support them.”
Ratner, a lifelong Great Neck resident and recent University of Maryland graduate, congratulated Peirez on her victory.
“It was a pleasure to get to know her throughout the race,” he said. “I look forward to working with the board to implement the ideas brought forward in my campaign.”
Ratner added that he wanted the community to “stay engaged” with the district and urged residents to vote on Feb. 14 for a proposed $85.9 million bond to address the district’s capital needs.
Schwartz, a former United Parent-Teacher Council president, said it was a “difficult election” because there were so many candidates for voters to learn more about in such a short period of time. Bloom resigned in September because of her corporate travel commitments.
“The time that it was announced to the time of the election was just too fast,” she said. “But it was good to get the community out and have the issues discussed.”
Schwartz said that it has been “many years” since there was an open seat on the school board, and she felt that residents have a greater understanding of the election process this time around because the race was for an open seat.
Toch, a 14-year hedge fund analyst and member of various UPTC committees, said although he lost, he enjoyed the experience of running.
“The experience was a very good one for me because it got me to meet a whole bunch of people I wouldn’t have ordinarily met,” he said. “Congratulations to Donna. The community will be well served by her.”
Toch said he expects to remain involved with the school district and will work to “continue and help move the district forward.”
Panetta, a 30-year New Hyde Park resident, said he wishes Peirez luck and that he would “probably not” change anything about his campaign.
He also said he wanted to remain involved with district operations in any capacity he could.
Efforts to reach Toumbekis were unavailing.

By Joe Nikic

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