The April 22 deadline to submit petitions to run for Rockville Centre’s Board of Education or Library Board came and went, and this year’s candidates are set to run unopposed.
John O’Shea, who was first elected to the Board of Education in 2010 and now serves as its president, decided to run for a fourth term, and will be uncontested. Library Board candidates Michael J. Ludwig and Susanne Morahan will also go unchallenged in the May 21 election. O’Shea and Morahan are incumbents, and Ludwig is set to replace Charles Kelleher, who served three terms on the Library Board.
School board president to serve another term
O’Shea, 59, a lifelong village resident, is ready to serve a fourth three-year term. In 1982, after attending Nassau Community College and Farmingdale State University, he started his own landscape design and maintenance company, which he still owns and operates today.
He has been active in the school district for years, and is a former co-president of the Riverside Elementary School Parent Teacher Association. O’Shea said he is proud that the school district’s budget has passed each year he has been a board member, and looks to continue advocating for students to best prepare them for college and the workforce.
“I have a desire to serve the community that I live in,” he told the Herald last week. “I always feel that it’s important for the board to ensure the school district provides the best education possible for the students in the district.
“Between academics, athletics, music and the arts and these other programs, we reach I’m hopeful it’s all our students,” he continued, “but we always strive and look and see what we can and should do better. It’s always a challenge, and we try to beat those challenges.”
Most recently, O’Shea was among the board members who advocated for more mental health resources for students, urging the district to add a guidance counselor for Rockville Centre’s elementary school students next year.
In addition to bringing awareness to mental health, O’Shea said he would consider addressing the stigma on suicide by talking about it more and hopes to add more social workers in the future so that students have an avenue to talk to somebody if they don’t have that ability at home.
“All our students have different needs or desires,” he said, “and we try to accommodate whatever we can.”
Getting to know the Library Board candidates
Morahan is set to return to the board after filling the seat vacated by former board member Christine Glass last October.
A Rockville Centre resident and user of the library for more than 20 years, Morahan became especially familiar with the facility through her longtime role as a troop leader and chairwoman for Rockville Centre Girl Scouts, which would hold meetings and attend events there.
“What really struck me was how the library was the heart and soul of the village,” she said. “The library welcomes everyone, and it provides programs for all generations and interests.”
Though no longer involved in Girl Scouts, she called joining the Library Board “a natural progression.” She noted that she recently helped introduce the library’s Bestsellers Club, which allows members to be placed on the reserve list for the latest fiction by their favorite authors.
Morahan earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hofstra University, a graduate degree in English literature from St. John’s University and a paralegal certification from Adelphi.
She currently manages the Ethics and Compliance program at Guardian Life Insurance and looks to bring her legal and business background to the board. Morahan is also an executive on the Women’s Leadership Network and routinely volunteers her time with the New York Legal Assistance Group’s mobile legal unit on Long Island.
“Having people on the board that are included in all different communities on Long Island . . . helps other programming come to the library,” she said.
Ludwig, an associate professor in Hofstra University’s Department of Health Professions and Family Studies, will be the new face on the five-member board. Poised to retire in two years, he said, “I thought it would be a good time to get involved in an organization that I really enjoy and I think does great things for the community.”
He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in health education from the State University of New York at Cortland and formerly taught in the New York City public school system. He earned a doctorate degree from Penn State University, also in health education, and has worked at Hofstra for 23 years.
Ludwig moved to Rockville Centre 15 years ago, and has seen the range of programming and services the library provides. He wants to continue its mission by bringing a university perspective and identifying new areas of interest for potential programs.
More programs encouraging and fostering media literacy, for example, should be offered, he said, in an age where the library’s offerings are expanding technologically.
“I think too many people assume that you can only deconstruct or analyze a short story, a novel or a poem, and I would argue that we live in such a saturated media environment that I think we have to be a little more critical about all of the media that we consume.”
Residents can show their support for the candidates at the polls on Tuesday, May 21, at South Side High School from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., at which time the school district and libraries’ budgets can also be voted on. Prior to the vote, a budget hearing and candidates forum will be held at the library on May 7 at 7:45 p.m. The school district’s budget hearing will take place on May 14 at 7:30 p.m.