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May 9, 2019 2:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Four Vie For Three Seats In 2019 Quogue School Board Election

May 9, 2019 2:17 PM

One newcomer is challenging three incumbents in the Quogue School District Board of Education race this month.

On May 21, district voters will be asked to approve the school’s $8.8 million budget for the 2019-2020 school year. Additionally, they will have to choose to reelect incumbents Lauren Battista, Barbara Sartorius and Steve Failla or boot one of them to make room for newcomer Paul Bass.

Mr. Bass said he hopes to bring an educator’s perspective to the Quogue School Board. For 33 years, the 59-year-old Quogue resident has worked as an American history teacher at Westhampton Beach High School. He retired from that position in 2015 and retired as Westhampton Beach High School varsity wrestling coach in March.

“This is what I know—I know education,” he said. “I just thought I could add something with all that experience.”

Mr. Bass’s three sons, Conner, Zachary and Liam, all graduated from the Quogue School and have since attended college.

Mr. Bass grew up in Westhampton Beach and moved to Quogue full time roughly 31 years ago. He has served as vice president and treasurer of the Suffolk County Coaches Association for the past 25 years and as an ocean rescue lifeguard since 1976. Additionally, he serves as an assistant chief lifeguard at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays—a close neighbor to Quogue.

“I love the Quogue School; it’s a wonderful place,” he said.

Ms. Battista, 58, has served as a member of the Quogue School Board since 2007 and is seeking her fifth three-year term.

As the board’s current president, she said she is looking forward to maintaining the district’s quality educational programs, while staying within the state-mandated cap on tax levy increases.

Additionally, she hopes to expand the district’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, or STEAM programs, as well as launch a new robotics initiative.

“I find it extremely rewarding to be involved with such an outstanding school district,” Ms. Battista said. “We have a very supportive community, and I am proud to say that our students are well prepared for middle and high school.”

Her daughter, Natalie Ehlers, and her son, Gavin Ehlers, both graduated from the Quogue School and are currently attending Westhampton Beach High School as a senior and freshman, respectively.

Ms. Battista moved to Quogue full time in 2003 and currently works as a real estate agent with Brown Harris Stevens.

Mr. Failla, who is seeking his second term, is determined to keep his seat on the board in the upcoming election.

He pointed to his experience as an educator, saying that he is “uniquely qualified and experienced to tackle what needs to be addressed in the next three years.”

The 45-year-old Quogue resident said the teachers’ contract expires in June, adding that he wants to continue making a difference in the teachers and students education.

“It’s important to me to make sure that the new contract is going to reflect the value and crucial role that teachers play in developing the children in our community, while remaining fiscally responsible to our taxpayers,” he said.

His eldest daughter, Mia, graduated from the Quogue School and is currently a ninth-grader at Westhampton Beach High School, and his younger daughter, Ava, is in fifth-grade.

For more than 20 years, Mr. Failla has worked as a social studies teacher in the Riverhead School District. Additionally, he holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Failla is also a Quogue volunteer firefighter and coaches local lacrosse and basketball teams in Westhampton and Quogue.

Ms. Sartorius, the wife of Quogue Village Mayor Peter Sartorius, is seeking reelection for the third time. The longtime Quogue resident was first appointed to the board in December 2009, after former member Edward Otis stepped down, and successfully ran to retain her set in May 2010.

Ms. Sartorius, who did not return multiple requests for comment this week, also serves as president of the Quogue Library.

District taxpayers can cast their votes on May 21 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Edgewater Road school.

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