LETTER: ‘Kids First’ Hoboken BOE slate should be elected for taking a stand against referendum


In a letter to the editor, North Hudson Sewerage Authority Commissioner Kurt Gardiner, speaking as a private citizen, gives his take as to why the “Kids First” Hoboken Board of Education slate should be elected after taking a stand against the $241 million referendum.

Dear Editor,

Every year three members of Board of Education are up for election. This year two of the incumbents decided not to run for undisclosed reasons leaving just one incumbent.

We also had a special election this January 25th, 2022 on a referendum to support a $241 million bond that when you calculate interest payments it worked out to $331 million over 30 years.

That would have made it one of the top five most expensive high school projects in history.

I did not support this project by Voting No for the following reasons:

1) The process itself was not transparent.
2) It was too costly and that would have hurt taxpayers and renters alike.
3) 2/3 of the new HS was for amenities and not the classroom.
4) It relied of bogus projections of HS growth that quite frankly were laughable.
5) The State Board of Education would not even fund it one dollar. What does it say about their opinion about the project when they wont contribute a dime to it?
6) A Middle School was not even considered and I have to ask why not? That is where the reliable growth is anyway.
7) The current HS educates just 400 kids; it has the capacity for 1200. It is completely adequate for the next 30 years based on any sane projection of HS growth.
8) A Hockey Rink is an exorbitant cost that you wont be able to contain. Not even top High Schools in Minnesota all have a rink.
9) The members of the board of Education at the time completely abrogated their responsibility as board members by not adhering to the correct process for drafting a proposal.

Now it is this last point, point number nine that any board member who voted yes on this proposal should no longer be on the board.

I voted for some of the people on the board but when they allowed the Superintendent to put this slap-dash and quite frankly sloppy proposal up they all gave up any control of the process and should be voted off the board for that reason alone.

They failed to meet the minimum standards of being a board member.

For this election we have two main slates, the “team that claims to listen” who would vote yes again next year in 2023; however this time it would be over $400 million dollars because interest rates went way up.

I put “team that claims listens” in quotes because if they truly listened the referendum would have never gone for a vote in the first place. If you are hell bent on spending over $400 million dollars on a HS that will sit empty this editorial is not for you.

I at least would like the members of that slate to articulate why the HS proposal was so great and explain that to an electorate that voted it down over 2 to 1. At least I am listening.

Now the genuine slate, Kids First, would have voted no if they were a board member and certainly voted no on the proposal as presented.

They are anything but the anti-slate though. They would vote yes on a proposal that first and foremost is based on fact and not ludicrous projections and have a process in place that ensures adequate public input.

I have met the candidates from the Kids First Slate namely Pavel Sokolov, Cindy Wiegand, and Donna Magen and believe in them.

They are the only candidates that have the open mind necessary to produce a proper plan to ensure the public schools are taken care of in the future.

To vote for the “team that listens” (they don’t listen but rather talk down to you) is a wasted vote a serious waste of taxpayer dollars. 

How else can you explain the “stealth move” to put this on the ballot in January instead of November where it belonged? That move thankfully backfired in a major way.

The Kid’s First team needs you to show up at the polls on Tuesday November 8 and vote 6-7-8. Otherwise, there will be another HS referendum that will be shoved down the taxpayer’s throats in 2023 and it will likely be more money than the last one.

That is why Kids First has my wholehearted endorsement.


Kurt Gardiner
NHSA Commissioner acting on behalf of myself

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    • Here is why I am NOT voting for “Kids First”. Unlike the author who was superficially, foolishly charmed because he “met them”, I’ve done my due diligence on all three candidates. The least objectionable is Wiegand– nor can I recommend her. Sokolov and Magen are unacceptable.

      (1) Donna Magen:
      Did not disclose her membership in the extremist NJ Project (PAC) and its affiliate Fresh Faced Schools: both viciously attack LGBTQ privacy rights in schools, schools authority on medical and public safety intervention (masking, vaccines), the NJEA, teacher’s unions and endorse fringe candidates like PA’s Doug Mastriano, who hangs with Proud Boys, makes antisemitic statements and attended the Jan 6 insurrection. In her numerous Fresh Faced Schools posting, Magen has insulted parents (“sheep, psychotic”) and derided “lib publications” that supported Covid protocol. In spite of her DISHONEST denials, Magen asked the FOUNDER of NJ Project (Nik Stouffer) to endorse her slate, Kids First, and linked it. You see, Stouffer was soliciting online for BoE candidates to endorse, and Magen nominated Kids First. Magen may deny the truth, but here it is on this thread:

      (2) Pavel Sokolov
      Sokolov has refused to file legally mandated campaign finance reports, including donors and disbursements, with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission for his “Vote No” campaign, while his printed materials were stamped with “Paid for by the Hoboken Republican Party.” Nor has Pavel promised to step down as Chair of the Hudson County Young Republicans should he win. Where are his loyalties? Pavel endorsed the anti-public education policies of Education Secretary Betsey DeVos when he campaigned for her 2nd term with Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020. Pavel has not made any effort to learn about the prevailing issues in Hoboken District classrooms and this incompetence is on full display in this interview with the Hudson Reporter:
      Pavel is not being honest with voters– he really has no interest in education, he is a politician with eyes on bigger and higher party positions at the expense of 3,000 Hoboken kids.

      (3) Cindy Wiegand
      While her household did petition Hoboken Charter School to get rid of Covid mandates, she did so in July 2022 and not at the height of the pandemic. Weigand does not have Magen’s history of extremist advocacy nor Pavel’s entrenchment is partisan political machine. However, she has not rejected the endorsement of NJ Project; many candidates have asked to be taken off. Wiegand has accepted the endorsement of an anti-NJEA PAC, and could have run independently but chose not to. Lastly, why didn’t she disclose her board position as Secretary of “Friends of Hoboken Charter” in her campaign bio?

      I’m convinced that those who support KF are single issue voters too angry (Mr. Gardiner) or intellectually lazy (Mr. Gardiner) to understand who these candidates are.

      Who are they? A sleazy politician who pumped Dark Money into his “Vote No” campaign, an extremist who hid her radical right wing agenda from public view, and a parent who has accepted the endorsement from a group the NJEA has called “homophobic” and “transphobic”.

      Too bad the truth had to come on a mailer and not from the candidates. Mr. Gardiner is entitled to his opinion (and to dementedly rant and rave as “Hoboken Resistance”) but he is another angry voter who really lacks interest in the education of Hoboken’s kids.

    • Explain why you are endorsing the Losers that Lie slate. I’m am listening.

      I have carefully laid out my reasons for voting the real Kids First ticket and all you can do is a slogan Go Losers that Lie (LTL). Are you real or a Ravi Bot Bot?

  1. Every member of the present Board of Education lied to the public.
    Lies of omission are still lies.

    We need to elect people who will tell the whole truth the public and not more who only want to maintain power of the status quo.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. It can’t be LTL slate, they either were on the board or buy into the lies. That is why their acronym stands for Losers That Lie. LTL. Haha

  2. So what. I voted against the HS referendum too, but that doesn’t make me qualified to be on the BoE. All KF do is talk about the HS vote, how about some detail about what they are going to do now? What’s their plan? Where’s the beef?

    If all you do is whine about the past, you don’t get my vote (or that of many others, I’d imagine).

    • No more of Christine Johnson’s tricks.

      Had there been even one member of the BoE who was open and honest they would never have allowed the deceitful way that $300MM plan to rolled out to the public.

      The answer is not to return one of the co conspirators to sit on the Board and add two more political stooges.

    • I think the concept here is accountability. There’s a pretty big difference between holding people accountable for their actions and “whining about the past.” Voters know that but I guess since you can’t defend the indefensible that pathetic argument together with saying Trump a lot is all you got. Pretty pathetic.

      • And as always, you don’t answer the question. Let me repeat: how about some detail about what they are going to do now? What’s their plan? Where’s the beef?

        And what the hell does Trump have to do with my comment, or this BoE vote? Deflect much?

        And you call me pathetic, LOL! OK, girlfriend.

    • You’re not qualified with common sense if you reward people that tried to loot $330 million from Hoboken residents with a shady referendum for tribute gifting themselves a hockey rink and football field on a roof.


      As this endorsement offered, each of these people must be eliminated from the BoE starting with the Liars That Lie BoE ticket next month. Thee end.

      Vote Kids First – 6, 7, 8.

      • How intellectually lazy (or just disingenuous) can you be? My question, for the THIRD friggin’ time: how about some detail about what KF are going to do now? What’s their plan? Where’s the beef?

        I’m not an LTL fan, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Just answer the damn question.

  3. Leadership That Leads is incompetent.

    There is a dire shortage of space in Hoboken schools, but the LTL team failed to fix it. Instead, they spent almost 2 million dollars over 3 years on a disastrous secret plan with no community input. It lost by a 2:1 margin with double the usual turnout.

    So, because of their gross incompetence, our children don’t have enough classrooms. They don’t have art, music, or library space. What a catastrophe!

    Vote for anyone other than LTL because they’re incompetent.

  4. The LTL slate can’t even make an argument to why the referendum was a good thing. At least make an argument, even a bad one as to why building a Taj Mahal including an overpriced Hockey Rink will improve math proficiency scores. They can’t or they won’t.

    Their recent mailer from LTL is a distraction from the real issue of the referendum. If the Losers that Lie slate wins, I guarantee the referendum will be back on the ballot in 2023 with a price tag of over $400 million. They don’t listen and that is why their campaign slogan is a lie in and of itself.

    I’m a democrat and not a Ravi bot and have no problem putting kids first on the Board of Education regardless of political affiliation. Their attempt to make it a partisan race harkens back to the 2017 mayor’s race. It is truly a deceitful tactic led by Ravi, Vijay, Phil Cohen and other assorted Ravi bots signed off on by LTL. It won’t work this time as well because voters are tired of this tactic.

    Vote 678 on Tuesday and save our democracy from local democrats (who are really autocrats in disguise). Vote on the issues and not party affiliation. Vote Kids First.

    • Why can’t you answer the question, asked here for the FOURTH time: how about some detail about what KF are going to do now? What’s their plan? Where’s the beef?

  5. for concrete, detailed proposals– they’re on Patch. Start here, with Ms. Norwood.


    Now, end here, at KF’s : https://hudsonreporter.com/2022/10/13/kids-first-slate-eyes-hoboken-school-board-in-crowded-race/

    See the difference? KF brings NOTHING to the school board (couldn’t name one school issue, said they will learn on the job).

    VOTE 2-3-4

    • Leadership That Lies brings nothing to the school board except for a rubber stamp to the Bhalla/Angley/Malani agenda on building a $400+ million high school in secret. But hey when your school taxes go up 20+% to build an under capacity high school, you can put yourself on the back for defeating “fascism”.

  6. Fact Checking Mr. Gardiner (Dr. Jekyll) & “Hoboken Resistance” (Mr. Hyde):

    All three LTL candidates were asked about the referendum in their Patch intereviews, and explained their support. If you are interested in facts, not childish insults, here’s how they responded, in full:


    “I did support the referendum because as an active parent in the district I understood the issues at stake. Of our district schools, 4 of them are near, at, or exceeding capacity. Shortly, these children will be moving into the High School which is already growing in enrollment. The question “on the table” is where our children are actually going to sit.
    Further, the current High School, which would make an excellent middle school, does not have all the facilities and tools to continue delivering a top-notch 21 st century high school curriculum. We have the faculty; they need the resources.
    I absolutely believe the District and Board offered this decision to the community with the best intent. Regrettably, it was not presented in a time frame that could allow the community to become educated as to why the investment is so important. Such referendums tend to fail when we haven’t taken the time to help everyone understand the need. If any such referendum were to be introduced again, this level of communication and transparency is where I would start.”


    “Yes, I supported the referendum that was put to vote in January 2022. I believed then and
    continue to believe now, that the district needs new facilities for the 3,000 students currently attending the Hoboken Public School District. As a sitting board member, I learned a lot from this process; the community spoke loud and clear with their votes. When it comes time to present a new referendum, it’s imperative we focus on community engagement. We have already initiated a series of roundtable discussions open to all Hoboken residents, which were available in person and remotely. The goal of these sessions is to provide additional transparency and open communication between community members and the board. As the newest building in our district dates to 1962, I believe it is paramount that we invest in our school infrastructure.”

    “Even before I had children in the Hoboken Public School District, I believed that the decades of deferred maintenance on our school buildings needed to be addressed. I voted yes on the referendum for that reason; however, the January referendum process needed more transparency and community outreach. The Hoboken Public School District has over 3,000 students to educate from pre-K to grade 12. We need to develop and publish a 3-to-5-year strategic plan, with community input, addressing topics including facilities. My experience in infrastructure finance will be an asset to the Board and the City as we move forward to ensure that all our students have adequate facilities.”

    • What none of the LTL candidates address is whether the referendum was a good idea or not. It wasn’t. It was a bad idea poorly implemented. Our children need classrooms, not football stadiums. They need vocational education options, not hockey rinks. And we need better instruction and support for all our students, not an obsolete “classroom in the round”. Voters rejected their proposal 2:1 not because they didn’t understand it, but because they did.

      There’s a dire need for more space. The libraries, art, and music rooms have been cannibalized for more classroom space. Yet, the LTL team failed to deliver. They bet everything on a crazy hail-Mary scheme that was rightfully rejected. And guess what? They don’t have another plan! Nothing.

      Judge LTL by their results. Look at the overcrowding, the test scores and everything else and decide whether they deserve to be on the BOE. My verdict: they’re incompetent. They’re a failure. Whatever you do, don’t reward their incompetence and failure with your vote. Send a message: DO NOT VOTE FOR LTL.