The Bayonne Rotatory Club sponsored a public forum where 18 Bayonne Board of Education candidates directly addressed residents on their plans and long-term goals for the first time.
Chester Banks, President of the Bayonne Rotary Club, first addressed the significance of the election and thanked all the candidates for their public service.
Rev. Dorothy Patterson, pastor of the Wallace Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, was the moderator of the forum.
She emphasized that each candidate was allotted 5 minutes to share their qualifications, reason for running and goals if elected as a trustee.
Patterson opened the forum with a quote from Nelson Mandela.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
18 candidates shared a few common initiatives: full day Pre-K, a new teachers’ contract, more district funding, and transparency.
The first candidates to address the public were the eight seeking a three-year term. There are three seats available in the November 3 election.
Joseph Broderick – He has 45 years of education experience and believes that there should be a strong alternative program, so that children have multiple learning alternatives.
John Cupo – He wants to address the teachers’ contract first and believe that children cannot come first if teachers are not fairly compensated. Cupo also stated that this election should not be about politics, but people’s choice.
Mary Jane Desmond – She admitted that her biggest reasons to run was because of Common Core and PARCC testing.
Ava Finnerty – She has over 40 years of teaching experience and 32 of it was spent teaching in Bayonne. Her number one concern is funding for the Bayonne school district. She would also like to see full day pre-K and find ways to keep the good teachers in Bayonne.
Barry Kushnir – He has worked with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for 23 years and believes his experience as a union leader, handling grievance procedures, disciplinary problems and human resources will be an asset if he is elected to the board.
Patrick McManus – He was proud to state the he had no political ties and that anyone handling $11 million should be held accountable as it could have been used to keep great teachers in Bayonne.
Christopher Piechocki – He had a life changing experience on September 11, 2011 and changed careers. As a result, he completed and received a master’s degree in Special Education and taught in Jersey City.
Nancy Solis – If elected, Nancy wants to work on more specialized ESL programs which are reflective of the student’s cultural background.
There were also five candidates present who are vying for one 2-year term seat.
Christos M. Genes – A former law enforcement officer who stated that 15-to-20-year tax abatements are the underlying cause that affects the educational budget.
Thomas Howard Jr. – If elected, he would first focus on building a strong relationship between parents, teachers and administration.
Gina Irizarry – Irizarry would like to build a strong working relationship between parents, teachers and administrators. She also disagreed with the 5-year long wait that teachers endured for contracts.
Christopher Munoz: He would like to establish set days for the Bayonne BOE’s monthly meetings so that parents will be able to attend. He also would like to push for full day Pre-K for the Bayonne BOE and not just charter schools.
Frank Pellitteri – He would first focus on fixing teachers’ contracts because he believes it is one reason why Bayonne is losing good teachers.
Finally, there are five candidate who are seeking a one-year term. There is just one seat up for grabs on November 3.
Rafael Augusto – He would like to introduce a policy where teachers work in classrooms for eight to10 years before they would be considered for an administrative position.
John Butchko – He is a political scientist who believes in term limits. He also believes that it’s time to “take back” the board of education.
Deborah Peveler Segura – She believes that teachers should come first.
David Solari – He proposed a sit down meeting with Bayonne BOE President William Lawson and go through the financial books to see where all the funding is going.
Denis Willbeck – He told the City of Bayonne, school children and their families that he would provide the best education opportunities available if he was elected.
Leonard Kantor, a candidate for a three-year term and Michael Alonso, a candidate for a two-year term, did not attend the event.