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New BOE Members Focused on Improving District

Patrick Breslin, Jacqueline Barlow and Aaron Kurdyla won spots on the board of education in Tuesday's election.

One incumbent and two newbies will join the board of education come January after voters had their say in Tuesday's elections.

Incumbent Patrick Breslin was elected to the board for his second term, earning 5,159 votes, while newcomers Jacqueline Barlow and Aaron Kurdyla earned 4,956 and 4,830 votes, respectively.

"I am flattered that I got the support from so many people, and I had the help and enthusiasm of so many people who got our message out and got out to vote," Breslin said. "It's been a privilege to serve the last three years, and an honor to be given the chance to do that again for the next three."

Barlow said she is excited about what's to come.

"I'm very honored and humbled to actually be selected," she said. "I'm really proudest of the amount of support I got from the people in the community, and appreciate the amount of people who had confidence in me."

Kurdyla agreed.

"I am very appreciative that the community supported me in my run, and I am looking forward to working with the other board members to do some great things for the school district," he said.

The other incumbents, Cindy Cullen and Daniel Petrozelli, earned 4,043 and 3,334 votes, respectively.

"I would like to say congratulations and good luck to the winners," Petrozelli said. "It was a great experience."

Candidates Taha Marhaba, Hany Mostafa and Kendall Blythe earned 1,496, 861 and 1,806 votes, respectively.

As the three elected members prepare for their upcoming term, they said they are just looking to help the schools and the students where needed.

Breslin said he is especially focused on the facilities and maintaining the educational standards of the district.

"I want to give some further stabilization to our buildings and maintenance and facilities," he said. "We need to find a way to keep all those current and sound, and still stay within a managed budget."

"And we will find a way to manage from a budget perspective year in and year out in what may still be a very rough economy for years," he added.

For Barlow, she is especially focused on helping the students in the district meet their full potential.

"I keep going back to trying to make sure we do everything in our power to help every child meet their potential, with anything we can do to support early identification and intervention," she said. "It's really critical to identify early to support. It becomes more difficult as the children move through the years."

Kurdyla said his first goal is to get up to speed with the rest of the board and really get a handle on the issues facing the district.

"I don't have an agenda where I think I will get in there and solve one issue," he said. "Let's bring the district together with the superintendent and everyone, and build on what we can."

Breslin said he does not have an explanation for why he was the only incumbent to win another term, and that it is the first election in a while where two board members were replaced.

"At this point, I'm not sure what that means," he said. "We'll have to see if it was because of campaigning or something else. Maybe we'll find some answers as we move along with business as usual over the next couple of months."

Kurdyla said it may actually be a good thing to have some new blood on the board, although he also thinks it is a good thing that it is not all new.

"I think it will be great because there is a lot of experience on the board," he said. "They have gone through ups and downs, and that will be a great tool to educate everone else on what works and what doesn't. It should enable everyone to assimilate better to accomplish what needs to be done."

In voting at his location at the Green Knoll Volunteer Fire Company, Breslin said he was proud to see so many people there.

"Every time I went past, the parking lot seemed to be full and it gave the appearance of a very large turnout," he said. "The lines seemed to be long inside, and it was taking people some time to cast their votes, but it was a long ballot."

Kurdyla was also in his normal voting location, the municipal building, and said some people were hearing wrong directions, but he forwarded on information to some of the poll workers about the change in polling locations to help them out.

"I think turnout was OK," he said. "Driving around, there's hardly any roads an emergency vehicle can't get down, so most people were able to get down the roads."

"There was a good turnout in voting for the school board because it was in combination with the general election," he added. "That's a positive move."

As for the campaign itself, Barlow said it was a very good experience, and she appreciated the lack of mudslinging and the focus on the district itself.

"It was a very good experience and a great learning experience," she said. "I felt a lot of support and good feeling."

With the election over, Breslin said he is pleased to move forward with more time on the board.

"I am proud that there were so many people who offered to help, and used their personal time and energy just to be part of the community process," he said.

"I am very much looking forward to January," Barlow said. "I have been interested in this area for many years, and now I will be able to be even more active."

"Thank you to everyone who voted for me," Kurdyla said. "I am committed to doing the right thing for the town and district as a whole, and I am looking forward to putting in the time to do so."

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