Seven candidates are vying to fill four seats on the Riverhead Board of Education this year.
The only incumbent seeking re-election is Trustee Virginia Healy, who is seeking her second term. All the other candidates — David Dougherty, Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, Erica Murphy, Cynthia Redmond, James Scudder and Kimberly Wilder — are newcomers.
The other two incumbents whose terms expire June 30, Christopher Dorr and Therese Zuhoski, are not seeking re-election.
The three candidates who receive the most votes in the election will win a three-year term. The candidate who places fourth will fill the unexpired term of former trustee Laurie Downs, which expires June 30, 2025. The candidate who fills the seat vacated by Downs, who resigned on March 28, will begin their term of office as soon as the vote is certified. The terms of the other candidates will begin July 1.
Polls are open on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at a resident’s local K-4 elementary school. Find your polling place here.
Voters will be asked whether to approve the proposed operating budget for this coming school year. The budget is roughly $192 million and authorizes the district to raise the tax levy by 1%. Riverhead is expected to receive $76.1 million in state aid for the budget.
Below are short profiles on the candidates created using resumes and other information provided by the candidates. RiverheadLOCAL posed seven questions to the candidates by email; click the link at the end of each profile to read their written responses.
Healy, Murphy, Redmond and Scudder are all endorsed by the district’s teacher’s union, the Riverhead Central Faculty Association.
You can also learn more about the candidates by watching their three-minute pitch to voters during Tuesday’s school board meeting, which is available on the Riverhead Central School District’s YouTube channel. Candidates start speaking at 1:17:35.
Candidates are listed below in the order they will appear on the ballot.
Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, 50, of Riverhead, is seeking her first term on the board. She has been a district resident for 23 years and is the mother of two children: one who is a graduating senior and one who is a freshman at Riverhead High School. She has a bachelor of arts in environmental science and public policy from Harvard College and a master of science in conservation biology and sustainable development from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the co-owner of Garden of Eve Organic Farm on Sound Avenue, and has previously worked as a municipal planner for Southampton Town and as the director of the North Fork Environmental Council. Read Kaplan-Walbrecht’s response to RiverheadLOCAL’s questions here.
Virginia Healy, 61, of Wading River, is the only incumbent member of the current Board of Education seeking re-election this year, having first been elected to the board in 2020. She has been a district resident for 24 years and is the mother of eight children; the youngest two are currently a junior and a freshman at Riverhead High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts and a certification in financial planning from Adelphi University. She is currently a homemaker. She has previously worked as a financial planner and as an educational consultant for a private school in California. Read Healy’s response to RiverheadLOCAL’s questions here.
Erica Murphy, 38, of Manorville, is seeking her first term on the board. She has been a district resident for 14 years and is the mother of two children, who attend kindergarten and 3rd grade at Riley Avenue Elementary School. She has a master of business administration degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St Joseph’s College. She currently works as a senior staff accountant at Garritano CPAs CFOs in Islandia. She is retired from a 20-year career in the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard, where she worked in several roles, including aviation resource management. Read Murphy’s response to RiverheadLOCAL’s questions here.
Cynthia Redmond, 50, of Aquebogue, is seeking her first term on the board. She has been a district resident for 19 years and is the mother of two children: one who is a junior and one who is a sophomore at Riverhead High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Stony Brook University and currently works as a community prevention specialist at the Riverhead Community Awareness Program. Read Redmond’s response to RiverheadLOCAL’s questions here.
Kimberly Wilder, 54, of Riverhead, is seeking her first term on the board. She has been a district resident for 10 years and is the mother of one child in kindergarten. She has a master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Stony Brook University, a bachelor’s degree in English, with a minor in French, from Roanoke College, and a New York State Early Childhood Education Certification. She runs the parent networking/blog website Riverhead Area School Info and has had multiple jobs in education. Read Wilder’s response to RiverheadLOCAL’s questions here.
David Dougherty, 44, of Flanders, is seeking his first term on the board. He has been a district resident for 10 years and is the father of two children: one who is a graduating senior and one who is a freshman at Riverhead High School. He is a graduate of Eastport High School and works as the northeast regional sales manager for Vintage Wine Estates. He is also a volunteer firefighter in the Flanders Fire Department. Read Dougherty’s response to RiverheadLOCAL’s questions here.
James Scudder, 49, of Aquebogue, is seeking his first term on the board. He has been a district resident for 18 years and is the father of three children: one 7th grader who attends Riverhead Middle School and two 4th graders who attend Aquebogue Elementary School. He has both a bachelor’s degree and masters degree in music education from Five Towns College and currently works teaching elementary music and orchestral music in the Bayport-Blue Point School District. He previously worked as a music teacher and the music department chairperson at St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip. Read Scudder’s response to RiverheadLOCAL’s questions here.
Correction: This article has been amended after originally publication to correct a misstatement about the number of children BOE candidate James Scudder has.
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