MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Mahopac School District voters will have the opportunity to go to the polls on Tuesday, May 21, to vote on the 2019-20 budget, a proposition for a tax-neutral $54 million bond referendum that would bring much-needed upgrades and renovations throughout the district and elect four school board trustees.
Traditionally, three board seats come up for re-election annually, but in the wake of Trustee Penny Swift’s resignation last year, a fourth seat with two years left in its term, is also available.
Incumbents Michael Mongon and Lucy Massafra seek re-election, while incumbent Mike Cazzari will not. Newcomers Ray McDonough (who lost his bid to win a school board seat last year) and Adam Savino round out the candidate list.
With four candidates running for four slots, Mongon, Massafra, McDonough and Savino are all guaranteed to win seats. The only drama is who will take over Swift’s slot and finish out the last two remaining years of her term—that will go to the candidate who garners the least number of votes.
Here are the profiles for this year’s candidates:
Incumbent Lucy Massafra is a longtime resident of Mahopac and a graduate of Mahopac High School. She is seeking her fourth term on the school board.
Massafra works in the healthcare field and previously worked for Reader’s Digest as a consumer marketing manager. She has experience with budgeting, cost analysis and purchasing.
She has been married 34 years and all three of her children have gone through the Mahopac school system.
“I choose to run for school board trustee to continue fiscal responsibility while making sure policies are current and ensure that students and staff have the proper tools for success,” she said.
Massafra said that during her tenure, the school board has reduced and stabilized tax increases without compromising programs or staff.
“We put together a comprehensive plan to repair our schools with a bond proposition,” she said. “And my vision is to bring the district back to blue-ribbon status.”
Massafra was a SEPTO board member from 2011-2012. Her Board of Education committee involvement includes special education (2013-16); technology (chair, 2016-17); and policy (chair, 2014-15).
Massafra said she supports extracurricular activities such as clubs, drama and sports, along with special education initiatives and STEAM initiatives.
“I am an advocate for student success, and I will be proud to serve as a school trustee to continue the positive momentum,” she said.
Incumbent Mike Mongon, a 1979 graduate of Mahopac High School, is the president and owner of Sports Turf Management Systems, LLC, a company that oversees the management and maintenance of sports facilities and parks in the New York metropolitan area.
Part of those responsibilities include the management of Overpeck County Park and Preserve, an 800-acre former landfill in Bergen County, N.J.
Mongon, who seeks his second three-year term on the board, previously had a successful career as a golf course superintendent and property manager and parlayed that into his current position.
He has a broad community service background, having served on and chaired a number of boards. He’s been a president of the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) a national society, where he received his CGM distinction (certified grounds manager) in 1999, and an educator in the Rutgers Turfgrass Management School, of which he is an ’85 graduate.
“I guess I’m all about the environment,” he said. “The environment that our children will learn in, our teachers will teach in, our athletes will play in and our arts and music students will perform in. Student-, school- and community-based initiatives are the key, along with sound and reasonable financial management.”
Mongon and his wife, Lynne (an ’81 MHS grad), have six children between them; Brett, Ryan, Brad, Katrina, Christopher and Timothy.
Ray McDonough and his family moved to Mahopac in 1965 from the Bronx. He is a 1974 graduate of Mahopac High School and all three of his children attended Mahopac schools. He works as a project manager in the construction/contracting industry and is a member of Local Union 79 Mason Tenders.
“My family’s roots go back many years in Mahopac, as well as my wife’s family, the Edwards,” McDonough said. “Altogether, between both families, 10 siblings graduated from Mahopac High School and there has been a McDonough in the Mahopac School District from 1965 to last year. I truly bleed blue and gold and care very much for our town and our schools.”
McDonough said that the history of Mahopac school budgets from 2000-2012 put many people in financial hardship, especially seniors, and tax increases totaled more than 60 percent with programs being removed. He said that in 2011, the special education program was disseminated and put students in a challenging situation.
“I am running for trustee because I don’t want to see things go backward,” he said. “The current school board has been able to keep tax increases low while improving general education, as well as special education programs, while keeping the tax burden to a minimum. I would continue that fiscal responsibility.”
McDonough said he believes all Mahopac students are not college candidates and the district should offer more vocational programs and offer a work-ready curriculum.
“Our country has a shortage of welders, HVAC technicians, and tin knockers, to name a few,” he said. “It is important that we offer our students a vast array of options for their career paths.”
Adam Savino grew up in Mahopac and he and his wife, Claudia, have two children who attend school in the district.
“I have truly enjoyed my involvement with the PTO at Lakeview over the last few years, where my wife and I are co-presidents,” he said.
Savino has worked in the broadband communications field for the past 26 years, the last 10 of which he has been a technical operations supervisor.
“I have dedicated a good amount of my adult years volunteering in my community,” he said. “Before moving back to Mahopac to raise my family, I served the Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department for 17 years, six of which as a chief officer. After moving back here, I joined the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department where I am a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners. As a trustee on the school board I will continue to serve the community, working and advocating for the education of all children in our community, and ensuring every child has the tools and resources available to them to achieve success.”
Savino noted that over the past few years, the district has gone through several changes in the administration.
“As a board member I would work to bring stability back to the district, as well as create a plan that will attract the best and the brightest to the district to replace any staff that have left due to retirements, quickly and efficiently,” he said. “By working together, we can ensure that we will create an environment where students, parents, teachers, and staff feel they are welcome and that they belong.”
Budget Vote/School Board Election
Capital Project Plan Bond Referendum
Tuesday, May 21, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.
Mahopac High School gymnasium
421 Baldwin Place Road