Citizens Nominating Committee moved to not seek, review candidates for school board due to Covid-19


Pelham Memorial High School

Possibly for the first time since 1954, the Pelham Citizens Nominating Committee decided not to call for candidates for open school board seats or interview those running for the committee’s endorsement that candidates are qualified for the job, suspending operations due to complications involved with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 created extreme uncertainty on school board elections and the date it would occur,” the committee said in a statement after the Pelham Examiner inquired about the CNC’s activities. “As such, the CNC was left with very little time to coordinate interviews of the 2020 candidates. Also, the two incumbent candidates are unopposed. The CNC will make preparations for the 2021 school board election season.”

Board of Education President Jessica DeDomenico and Vice President Sue Childs are running unopposed for re-election to three-year terms.

School elections were pushed back to June 9 and candidates had to register by May 11, which is the date DeDomenico and Childs announced their candidacies in a joint statement. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order on school elections, petitions were not required to get on the ballot this year.

The CNC was founded in 1954 and is a separate entity from the Pelham Union Free School District and the school board, according to a description on the Town of Pelham website. The CNC’s call for candidate’s is traditionally the informal start of the school board election season. That notice went out on March 17 last year, with the list of candidates certified by the CNC released on May 20. This year, there was no news about the CNC’s plans for calling for or interviewing candidates until the Pelham Examiner contacted CNC Chairman Maurice Owen-Michaane.

Last year’s notice said, “Pelham’s Citizens Nominating Committee is currently seeking motivated, dedicated community members who are interested in running for a term on our board of education.”

“The mission of the CNC is to recruit, seek and nominate eligible candidates who are qualified to serve on the Pelham school board,” according to the description on the Town of Pelham website. “A CNC nomination is not the equivalence of an endorsement. It is a determination that the candidate meets the qualifications for candidacy.”

“The qualifications that the CNC considers in a candidate for board of education include: Knowledge of current local community issues as they affect the Pelham public education system; general interest in education and a belief in the public school system, and ability and willingness to execute faithfully the duties of a member of the board of education,” said the CNC’s call for candidates last year.

School budget and school board balloting will be done entirely by mail in accordance with the governor’s executive order. Ballots will be due by June 9 at no later than 5 p.m.