Very fortunate to have Tahbaz, Brice, Mazzaro running for school board

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To the editor:

We have a unique opportunity in front of us. There are three extremely well-rounded, proven candidates running for the Board of Education and we cannot miss this opportunity to get them working for the students of Pelham and Pelham Manor. Having served on the BOE for six years, I know how critical it is to have colleagues who are reasonable, smart, collaborative and willing to speak their mind in a respectful manner. We are very fortunate to have three such candidates running this year—Leah Tahbaz, John Brice and Vincent Mazzaro.

Leah is about the most well-suited candidate for the BOE that a community can ask for.

Leah and her husband have lived in Pelham for 16 years. She is a lawyer, and before deciding to stay at home with her four children, she worked for the law department of the New York State Supreme Court and as a litigator in private practice. Before law school, she worked in the estates department at Christie’s. Her legal background would be a highly valued resource for the Board of Education. Leah is also intimately familiar with our school district. She is currently serving a second year as PTA Council president; she’s a member of the Pelham Memorial High School Site-Based Council; she has served on many board and district committees, including IB oversight, safety and security, diversity, wellness (for over 5 years), and she was secretary of the Siwanoy PTA. Leah and I overlapped for several years while both serving on the district’s wellness committee. During that time I learned a few things about Leah—she is smart, thoughtful and full of terrific ideas. Leah is well-respected, knows how to collaborate and doesn’t stop working until she feels the best solution for the school district has been reached. As PTA Council president, Leah shows herself as a natural leader. If elected to the Board of Education, Leah will hit the ground sprinting.

John Brice is another uniquely qualified candidate with experience that couldn’t be more valuable to the board at this point in time. He and his wife have lived in Pelham for 34 years and have two children who have graduated from PMHS. John previously served on the BOE for nine years, the last four of which he was board president.  During his tenure, the district built a new middle school and made extensive renovations to the high school. He is a recipient of the Thomas B. Fenlon Award for exceptional volunteer service to the Pelham Public Schools. As a well-respected architect, John was pulled back into “volunteerism” by the BOE last year to join the bond steering committee as the board worked on and passed a bond referendum to build a new Hutchinson School, among other projects.  With two unanticipated resignations from the school board at the end of the last school year, John submitted an application to fill one of those vacated seats and was appointed by the board in August. I know that he has been an invaluable addition to the board, and as I still sit on the bond steering committee, I see first-hand the value of having someone with John’s architectural and construction experience, not to mention his educational insights, working for our schools. His input is crucial.

Vincent Mazzaro is an exceptional candidate who has already proven his value during this last year, as he too was appointed by the board in August. He and his wife have lived in Pelham for 25 years. They have five children. As chief operating officer of a nationwide investment bank, brokerage and advisory firm, Vinny brings a tremendous amount of financial expertise to the board. He is a certified public accountant and has a Master’s Degree in finance. Vinny has been extremely involved in this community, including serving as commissioner and chairman of the Pelham Recreation Commission for six years and coaching nearly every sport for the last 15 years. He also spent four years managing the fundraising for the construction of the turf field at Glover. Vinny is a well-respected, integral member of this community. During this past year, he chaired both the board’s audit and athletic facilities committees where, not surprisingly, I understand his expertise and leadership have proven invaluable.

Unfortunately, both of those vacated positions last year only had one year left in their respective terms. If we want John Brice and Vincent Mazzaro to continue the terrific work that they have started, we must re-elect them.  To not do so would be to short-change the community of their knowledge and momentum. We need them to help the board shepherd the work of the bond until completion. This pair, along with Leah Tahbaz, highly experienced in our district already (having held nearly every position there is, short of being a trustee for the Board of Education), gives us a lawyer, an architect and a financial expert, all of whom are level-headed, proven collaborators. We cannot lose this opportunity to elect these three exceptional people to our Board of Education. Let’s get Leah Tahbaz, John Brice and Vincent Mazzaro elected on May 21. Thank you!

Madeline Smith

304 Corlies Ave.