The damp weather couldn't put out the passion behind Commack School District's budget vote and Board of Education election.
Election worker Brittany Pulley said there's been a steady stream of voters turning up to cast their ballots at Commack High School, one of two polling places for Commack district taxpayers.
"It's been pretty busy, but it's difficult to tell you the turn out given that voting it split between two schools," Pulley said.
While exact number of votes cast as of 5 p.m was not available, Pulley's observations of a steady stream of voters was seconded by Debbie Virga, Commack's director of community relations. Virga, dressed in a bright red peacoat, stood outside the high school answering voter's questions on the budget and school issues.
Many residents remarked they were surprised to see Board of Education candidate Daniel Fusco and Board president Mary Jo Masciello standing outside the high school, just feet beyond a chalked 100-foot line mandated by New York State Board of Elections. Both were handing out fliers and soliciting voters, Fusco for his own campaign and Masciello on behalf of incumbent Deborah Guber.
"I've been standing out here since 6 a.m.," Fusco said.
Voters heading to the booths to cast their votes on the proposed $171 million budget were split on both sides of the fence, some for it and others against it.
"I read the information that was sent to me and made a decision based upon my children going to school and what I want for them the future.
"I voted for the budget," said district taxpayer Marc Sontarp. "I don't want them to eliminate any teachers. I want the children to have a better education. They are going to be in this school district for a long time and I want them to get the quality education they deserve."
Another man, who wished not to be named, said he voted against the budget as felt the teachers and administrators could have made more concessions instead of cutting student programs.
Yet, those cuts are what persuaded others to vote in favor of the budget.
"I feel very strong it should not be cut in any way at all, so I voted in favor of this year's budget," said woman, who only identified herself as a former adjunct professor at Dowling College. "Schools need the money. I know a lot of people feel they throw money away on silly things, like education, but they have to keep going and most of the budget is already in place in teachers' salaries. People think they are voting something down, that they aren't."
Commack School District polls will close at 9 p.m. with the result of the budget vote and Board of Education election announced soon afterwards.
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