There are now three candidates for two open seats on the Scarsdale school board.
The School Board Nominating Committee announced March 30 the selection of Amber Yusuf and Robert Klein as its 2020 nominees. On Monday, May 11, Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez announced an independent run for the board.
Board members are elected to three-year terms and can serve up to two terms. Scott Silberfein, former board president, and Chris Morin will be completing their second terms on June 30, leaving two vacancies.
The last time a contested election was held was in 2018, when incumbent Pam Fuehrer was not renominated by the SBNC. Her independent campaign was successful and this year she replaced Silberfein as the board president.
Due to COVID-19, the election has been postponed to June 9 based on a May 1 Executive Order by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The school board election and budget vote will be held through the mail by absentee ballot only. The school district is required to send every eligible voter a postcard notice, which details the date of the election, date of budget hearing, definition of qualified voter and an absentee ballot with return postage included. The board of education said last month that this mail-in process would likely delay the announcement of the results as more ballots are expected to be cast due to the new process. That could be even more delayed with the emergence of Kirkendall-Rodríguez’s candidacy.
Kirkendall-Rodríguez has lived in Fox Meadow with her husband Brice and her two now elementary school age children for nine years. Kirkendall-Rodríguez is a bank and capital markets risk consultant and trainer, working with international clients as the owner of MRV Associates. She holds degrees from Harvard/Radcliffe, The Lauder Institute and The Wharton School at UPenn. She also studied at Hebrew University in Israel.
“My specific work is risk identification, risk measurement, risk monitoring and how to provide solutions,” Kirkendall-Rodríguez said. “I think that kind of analytical thinking is important and very useful in any board, but especially right now with the economy being in an unbelievably deep recession.”
With volunteer experience beginning as an elementary school student growing up in Texas, Kirkendall-Rodríguez’s Scarsdale résumé includes Fox Meadow Elementary School Multicultural Committee, Young Writers’ Workshop, Cub Scouts, Old Scarsdale Neighborhood Association, Scarsdale Forum, Scarsdale Non-Partisan Procedure Committee, Alcott Montessori and the 2020 Voters Choice Party campaign.
“My approach to any of the boards I’ve served is to do some research, a lot of it in fact at times, and to ask tough questions,” she said. “I really firmly believe that people should not interpret tough questions as being critical. I think especially now more than ever we all have to be adults and realize that there are lots of choices to be made at our schools and we will not be able to get everything we want.”
She said the many different parts of the community have different needs based upon where their kids are in their schooling of if they are empty nesters. The empty nesters are a key part of the community, she said, because they “help subsidize the schools” and keep the community “cohesive” as opposed to families leaving after their youngest has graduated. “We should be thanking all empty nesters and we want them to stay,” she said.
Kirkendall-Rodríguez has been volunteering in Scarsdale since before her kids were in school and prides herself in her involvement in both school district and village civic engagement. She was the Voters Choice Party’s campaign chair in support of independent village board candidates Bob Berg, Bob Selvaggio and Sean Cohen until she decided to run for the school board.
Kirkendall-Rodríguez said it’s a “unique combination” to have experience with both village and school issues. “A lot of people either do village stuff or school stuff — never the twain shall meet,” she said.
“In addition to love for education and love for our community, it’s incredibly important at any time — and especially now — to have someone on the board who is willing to ask very analytical questions, ask questions for which there may not be an answer for now or in the foreseeable future, but just because questions don’t have an answer does not mean they should not be asked,” Kirkendall-Rodríguez said.
Full profiles of each candidate will be published in The Scarsdale Inquirer and scarsdalenews.com in the weeks leading up to the election.