Red Hook School Board trustee Sean McLaughlin is finally calling it quits.
McLaughlin served on the school board for 12 years, six as school board president, before deciding to step down in 2011. But when fellow trustee Frank Knobloch retired last year, he agreed to fill in for the year left on Knobloch’s term to lend experience to a board that had just added two new members.
“I had made the decision to step away last year at the end of my fourth term,” said McLaughlin.
A last-minute filing by Edward Mercier, who will appear unopposed on the ballot May 15, avoided an empty seat that might have ended with McLaughlin returning for yet another year. Mercier will join Johanna Moore, Dawn Morrison, Ryan McCann and school board president Kelly Mosher.
“To be blunt, I’m doing this because it is an important job and there weren’t many hands in the air. In fact there were no hands in the air, which I find frustrating,” Mercier said. “For me, this all happened very quickly…. There were two choices here, to be part of the solution or part of the problem, and I would much rather help to make things happen as opposed to watching things happen or wondering what just happened.”
Mercier believes his experience in finance and his two children in the district will hold him in good stead on the board.
“I am a financial advisor and have operated a business for over 20 years, I work with local families and business owners every single day, I feel that I have a good sense of what the economic environment is like on a local level and the challenges that people face,” Mercier said. “I would like for [my children] to have modern facilities, adequate resources, diverse programs, and the most qualified faculty as possible for them to get the best education that this school district can provide. So as a result, I feel that I can provide a balanced sensibility to the issues that our school district has to deal with.”
For McLaughlin, the act of stepping down is no easier the second time around.
“Stepping away again is not easy. I have learned a great many things, made some wonderful friends and enjoyed each moment,” he said. “I leave knowing there is still a great deal of work to do, but this current board and administration is comprised of some incredibly smart and talented folks. When all is said and done, the district, children, and staff are in very good hands.”
Meanwhile, contrary to rumor, residents should know that it’s not required that your last name start with M to serve as school board trustee.