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Mount Pleasant Residents Hold School Vote Rally, Support Write-In Candidate

School children from the Town of Mount Pleasant participated in Sunday's "Vote Yes" rally in Thornwood. Photo Credit: Provided/Stephanie Pastilha
Yard signs popped up throughout the City of Rye the past 10 days on lawns of residents supporting a 60 percent "supermajority" override a tax cap to increase the RCSD budget. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Another lawn sign promoting Tuesday's school budget vote at Rye Middle School Gym. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
More photos from Sunday's "Vote Yes" rally involving more than 250 parents, students and other Town of Mount Pleasant residents who will vote Tuesday for three open school board seats, from a field of five candidates, including one write-in campaign. Photo Credit: Provided/Stephanie Pastilha
Some of the Mount Pleasant students who joined Sunday's rally at ShopRite Plaza in Thornwood Shopping Center. Photo Credit: Provided/Stephanie Pastilha
More than 250 parents, students and other Town of Mount Pleasant residents participated in a peaceful rally Sunday in Thornwood to publicize Tuesday's school board and school budget vote at Westlake High School. Photo Credit: Provided/Stephanie Pastilha
Michael Colasuonno's name reportedly will be blocked from ballots Tuesday when voters show up to vote for Elmsford Board of Education candidates. His Village of Elmsford residency was questioned by CBS2 television news, leading him to resign May 11. Photo Credit: CBS2
A revolving illuminated sign declared "Statewide School Budget" as seen off Union Street on Saturday outside Harrison High School. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- More than 250 "Friends of Mount Pleasant" held a rally in Thornwood on Sunday to publicize three open school board seats -- along with their support for the school district's 2015-16 budget.

Tuesday's election at Westlake High School Gym includes the first known "write-in campaign" for a Mount Pleasant Board of Education seat. The fifth and newest candidate, John Piazza of Valhalla, is a former school board member and lifelong town resident. Details on the other four candidates can be found here on the Mount Pleasant website. 

Meanwhile, residents of the Elmsford Union Free School District will find their former school board president's names covered and now ineligible at Tuesday's election after Michael Colasuonno.abruptly resigned May 11 as a CBS2 television reporter quizzed neighbors if he lived in Yorktown -- where he reportedly voted in 2013 -- or the Village of Elmsford, where the school district is located within the Town of Greenburgh.

Parent group efforts in the City of Rye and Edgemont, meanwhile, are promoting "Vote Yes'' campaigns to override tax caps in their respective school districts, to allow a school budget increase. An override requires a 60 percent "yes" vote, or supermajority, to pass. Only 27 such override votes are planned in the more than 700 public school districts across New York state. There were 44 override attempts last year.

The state-mandated cap is set to expire on June 15, 2016, although new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, introduced legislation on Friday to make it permanent on all taxing districts and municipalities in New York. 

The Mount Pleasant election and budget vote is from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Westlake High School Gym. Board President James Grieco and Trustee Vincent D'Ambroso did not seek re-election to the school board. 

"There is a lot of controversy around the seats this year and the community is in need of some unity,'' said Stephanie Pastilha, a Town of Mount Pleasant resident supporting write-in candidate John Piazza of Valhalla -- who served one term on the school board from 2006-2009 -- as well as two of the other four candidates whose names will appear on the ballot: Thomas McCabe and Colleen Scaglione Neglia. Their supporters posted Piazza's biography and a "Meet the Candidates" meeting video on a blog with more details here.

"I feel they will be the best candidates to represent our schools and move our district forward and allow Mount Pleasant to be comparative to neighboring districts,'' Pastilha told Daily Voice after Sunday's rally in ShopRite Plaza at Thornwood Town Center.

Pastilha said parents are concerned that two of the five candidates for three open seats only recently moved to the town, opposed two successive school bond issues, and do not have children in the school district. Candidates Catherine Tully and Peter Peale also turned down an invitation to tour proposed improvements to the Westlake school buildings in advance of the $42.4 million bond votes, which were defeated handily in March. An earlier November 2014 bond vote for $55.8 million in renovations also was defeated. 

Parents at Sunday's rally said they launched a campaign supporting McCabe and Scaglione Neglia as well as Piazza as the newest, write-in candidate for the third open seat. The top three vote recipients win board seats on Tuesday..  

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