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2018-2019 School Board Election  

Meet the candidates for the Watervliet City School District Board of Education


Two seats on the Board of Education are up for election on Tuesday, May 15. Four candidates are vying for the two at-large seats. The two candidates who receive the highest number of votes will be elected to the board and will be sworn in during the July Board of Education meeting. Each candidate is elected to serve a three-year, unpaid term that will expire June 30, 2021. The candidates are listed in the order that their names will appear on the ballot.


picture of board candidate Heather Soroka

Heather Soroka, of 904 23rd Street, Watervliet, currently serves as vice president of the school board  and is seeking a second term on the Board of Education. A lifelong district resident, she is employed as the secretary to the chief information officer in the Office of Information and Technology for the SUNY System Administration. Mrs. Soroka is a graduate of Watervliet Jr./Sr. High School. She serves on the district Policy Committee and the Class Rank Committee, and is also a member of the Watervliet Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (PTA). She volunteers for many school activities that her children are involved in, and is a volunteer who actively supports the Watervliet Little League program.  Mrs. Soroka and her spouse, Peter, have three children: Emily is a 2015 graduate of Watervliet High School, and currently attends Hudson Valley Community College; Madison is in 11th grade at WJSHS, and Leo is in third grade at Watervliet Elementary School.


picture of board candidateSHAWN SMELTZER, of 2322 12th Avenue, Watervliet, is seeking a first term on the Board of Education.
A district resident for 15 years, he is employed as a Community Relations Specialist for Fidelis Care. In this role, Mr. Smeltzer works with organizations, businesses and groups to help ensure individuals and their families have health care coverage. A graduate of Devils Lake Central High School in North Dakota (ND), he earned a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Minot State University (ND). Mr. Smeltzer is a past president of the Head Start Policy Council in Albany County. He and his spouse, Kristin, have twin sons, Nathan and Evan, who are in the ninth grade at Watervliet High School, and a daughter, Peytan, who is a seventh-grade student at Watervliet Junior High School.

picture of board candidate

THERESA DECHIARO, of 1817 4th Avenue, Watervliet, is seeking a first term on the Board of Education. Ms. DeChairo is a lifelong resident of the city and a 2015 graduate of Watervliet High School. She is currently employed at ABC Sports & Fitness and at Browns’ Brewing Co. At ABC, she manages the front desk and is responsible for greeting gym members, answering phone calls, handling correspondence, and maintaining the cleanliness and making sure the gym is well organized. At Brown's she serves as a hostess and has similar responsibilities, such as greeting guests and seating them, answering phones, scheduling reservations, placing orders and maintaining the cleanliness of the restaurant.
After graduating from WJSHS, Ms. DeChiaro attended Clarkson University, studying chemical engineering and engineering and management, and is currently earning an associates degree in Business Administration at Hudson Valley Community College. Throughout her six years at WJSHS, Ms. DeChiaro participated in many extracurricular activities, including the women's soccer team, cross country team, women's basketball team, and track team. She was also involved in and served as an officer for numerous clubs, including National Honor Society (president), Student Council (president), Character Education (president) and SADD (Vice President). She continues to remain active in supporting the school district by attending Cannoneer sporting events, fundraisers, plays, band concerts and talent shows. Ms. DeChiaro volunteers and participates in many events held in the City of Watervliet, including the annual Chili Cook-Off, Arsenal City Run, Memorial Day parades, Watervliet Little League Opening Day, and the Christmas Tree lighting. She is proud to be a Watervlietian and shows her support in any way possible for her community.

picture of school baord candidate

AMANDA CAVANAUGH, of 720 24th Street, Watervliet, is seeking a first term on the Board of Education. A resident of the district for the past three years, she is employed as a campaign organizer for Compassion and Choices, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most active non-for profit working to improve end-of-life care. In the role of campaign organizer, Ms. Cavanaugh works to pass laws on the state level to improve end-of-life care and expand options at life’s end. She manages volunteers and collaborates with others involved in the campaign. She also plans events, lobbies lawmakers, attends conferences and works with a national staff to raise awareness for the mission of Compassion & Choices. A graduate of Broadalbin-Perth High School, she studied and completed training as a medical assistant at Keiser University in Lakeland, FL.
Ms. Cavanaugh is active member of the Watervliet Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (PTA), was recently nominated as the PTA vice president, and has volunteered for book fairs, school pictures, the Color Run, and other PTA-sponsored school events. She also volunteers in her daughter’s classroom, helping at Field Day, chaperoning field trips, and assisting during Halloween and other class celebrations. She will begin her third year as a cheer coach and second year as the Cheer Coordinator for Watervliet Youth Football & Cheer where she has been involved with all tasks for the program including helping with registrations, attending weekly games and practices and planning the end-of-season celebration.
Ms. Cavanaugh and her family participate in many community activities, including Adopt-A-Family during the holiday season; Relay for Life of the Hudson River Communities; and the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk in Albany. She and her spouse Carolann Cavanaugh have a daughter Camdyn, a third-grade student at Watervliet Elementary School. 

Polls will be open from 11 a.m. through 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15 for the annual school budget vote and Board of Education election. The two polling sites are the Watervliet Elks Club at 501 4th Avenue, and Watervliet Elementary School at 2557 10th Avenue.