Candidates seek election for three available board of education seats

On May 16, district residents will elect three members of the Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District Board of Education. Four candidates filed nominating petitions, and the three with the highest number of votes will fill the available seats. Each term will run from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2026.

Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the J-D High School Gymnasium, 6845 Edinger Dr., DeWitt. More information about the proposed budget and the vote is available on the Budget and Finance web page.  

The board of education candidates are listed below in alphabetical order. 

    • Alisa Albanese, (withdrawn)
    • David Babikian,
    • John Baxter,
    • George “Joe” Gross,

Information about each candidate is below in the same order:

Alisa Albanese (withdrawn) is seeking her first term on the J-D Board of Education. She was born and raised in Central New York. She and her husband Jimmy Albanese have three children who attend Jamesville Elementary and J-D Middle School. She attended the Westhill Central School District. She graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in Psychology. She was a drug and alcohol counselor at the Salvation Army while earning her master’s degree in physician assistant studies from LeMoyne College. She’s a longtime Upstate University Hospital employee. She also volunteers at Sarah’s Guest House and the Samaritan Center. 

Candidate statement: I look forward to playing a crucial role for J-D in order to help promote an awesome community both in and outside of our schools.

David Babikian is seeking his first term on the J-D Board of Education. He has lived in the district for 21 years. He and his wife Francine Babikian have two children. One graduated from J-D in 2020 and the other is in the class of 2024. He is a high school social studies teacher for the North Syracuse Central School District. He graduated from Henninger High School in Syracuse. He has a bachelor’s degree in education from Butler University and a master’s degree in history from SUNY Oswego. He belongs to the NYS Education Department Commissioner’s Advisory Council and Professional Standards and Practices Board.

Candidate statement: My entire career has been focused on education. As a teacher, I have been heavily involved in activities at my school district. I have been on numerous committees, and am the treasurer of our teacher’s union. At the state level, I have helped develop and create education policies. I have also helped advise the Commissioner of Education. The one area I have not had the opportunity to focus on was my own children’s schools and helping my local community deal with educational issues. Ultimately, I feel like the board of education would be a great opportunity for me to utilize the knowledge I have gained working in education for the past 25 years. 

John Baxter is seeking his first term on the J-D Board of Education. He is a 17-year district resident. He and his wife Barbara Baxter have two children who graduated from J-D in 2013 and 2016. He’s a Massena Central High School graduate and received an associate degree in Business Administration from SUNY Canton. He is also a veteran who served four years in the Navy. He retired after 32 years of service with the state of New York. He worked at the Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District for 11.5 years as the head custodian at the middle and high school. 

Candidate statement: It’s been a rough few years emotionally and socially for students and overwhelming for teachers. I would like to ensure every student gets all the support and guidance they need to be on a path to graduate and support the teachers and give them the necessary resources they need in today’s world. 

George “Joe” Gross is seeking a second term on the J-D Board of Education. He is a 22-year district resident. He and his wife Katherine Gross have three children. One graduated from J-D in 2020, the other two are enrolled at the middle and high school. He’s a graduate of Mount Saint Joseph’s High School. He later attended Earlham College and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University. He is currently the Executive Director at Syracuse Jewish Family Service. He is the current Vice President of the J-D Board of Education, and has served on several board committees. He is also involved with the Elder Justice Coalition and SPRiNG Alliance. 

Candidate statement: I am privileged to seek a second term on the Jamesville-DeWitt board of education. I came to the Syracuse area 25 years ago and am proud to call Central New York home. When I began my service on the board in 2020, my biggest concern was making sure our schools would continue to provide our students with the support needed to continue their educational journey, and do so as safely as possible. While the world has changed a lot since then, those priorities remain extremely relevant. I will continue to advocate for every student to have the opportunity to excel in a caring and supportive environment.