Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Owen-Michaane and Rowe seek reelection to school board, joined by Cohen and Gordon in four-candidate field


Dr. Micheal Owen-Michaane and Ian Rowe—both one-term incumbent school trustees—and Kathryn Cohen and Darra Gordon will vie for two three-year terms on the Pelham Board of Education in the school district election on May 21.

Petitions were due to District Clerk Valerie Miller by 5 p.m. Monday, and school district spokesman Alex Wolf provided the names of the candidates who submitted.

The four candidates will be on the ballot along with a proposed $93.6 million budget for the year beginning July 1, as well as a proposition to allow the replacement of the synthetic turf at the Glover Athletic Complex stadium. The budget would raise the tax levy 2.68%, which is below the state-set cap. The new turf would have no impact on taxes as the $850,000 cost would come out of a capital reserve fund.

Owen-Michaane has served as board president for the past two years and Rowe its vice president for the same period. They were elected trustees in May 2021 in a five-candidate race, running on platforms focused on the return to in-school learning as the Covid-19 pandemic began to abate, though each took a different approach in their public statements.

Owen-Michaane, a physician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said in a March 2021 interview he decided to run after Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cheryl Champ asked for help from medical professionals in the effort to reopen schools safely. He is married to Republican Village of Pelham Manor Trustee Maurice Owen-Michaane, who began a third term on that board in March.

Rowe, who is a co-founder of a network of charter high schools in the Bronx, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and served in President George W. Bush’s White House, also highlighted returning to normalcy in an April 2021 interview, though he criticized the sitting school board for failing to provide leadership on reopening for full in-person instruction fast enough.

Aside from the debate over ending pandemic restrictions, the other major issue in the 2021 race was the school district’s racial equity audit, which was published the prior October and found Pelham schools lacked a consistent commitment to “equitable and racially just” schools.

In an extensive February 2021 letter to the editor that Rowe wrote before he announced his candidacy, he criticized the “divisive conclusions” in the audit report. “While never explicitly stated, consistent with critical race theory, there also seems to be an implicit message that whatever disparities do exist by race, they must be predominantly due to discrimination by race,” he wrote. At that time, right wing media and public interest organizations had begun using the phrase “critical race theory,” an arcane thesis taught in some law schools, to attack any form of anti-discrimination, equity or diversity policy in schools.

Gordon, a Village of Pelham resident, is deputy president and chief operating officer of Glaad, the world’s largest media advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. In a February 2022 interview with the Pelham Examiner about her position, Gordon said, “I was able to marry my business acumen, all the things that I really like, to a cause. Hopefully to make the world a better place and support a community that I was a part of.”

Owen-Michaane and Rowe live in the Village of Pelham Manor.

The Pelham Examiner will publish background information on Cohen as it becomes available, as well as additional information on the other candidates, their statements, coverage of the candidates forum and other election events.


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Charlotte Cohn, Assistant Managing Editor
My name is Charlotte Cohn, and I am a tenth-grader at Pelham Memorial High School. I love writing, listening to music, and dancing. I have been writing for the Pelham Examiner since 2019.

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