LETTER: The timing of the $241M Hoboken school referendum is not progressive


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Kevin Davis gives his take on why the $241 school referendum set for Tuesday is not progressive.

Photo via Google Maps.

Dear Editor,

All over the country there have been efforts by Republicans to limit the number of people who vote.

They have fought for voter ID laws where people without photo ids are disenfranchised from voting. The problem with voter ID laws is that it is hard to get an ID if you don’t have one. To quote rapper Mos Def “Why do I need ID to get ID, If I had ID I wouldn’t need ID”.

Republicans have fought to limit early voting and vote by mail because those voters lean more Democratic than the electorate.

But there is something that the Hoboken school board did that would make Mitch McConnell blush, they scheduled a $241 million school bond vote on this Tuesday, January 25th.

This will likely have a turnout of only 10-12% of registered voters, which is much lower than the 36% of registered voters that came out this last November.

You may think that the timing of the election is a Republican idea, but there are no registered Republicans on the nine-member Hoboken school board.

In fact, there are six registered Democrats on the school board (Sheillah Dallara, Joyce Simons, Alex De La Torre, Melanie Tekirian, Ailene McGuirk, and Thomas Kluepfel).

Considering that Democrats are fighting against voter suppression laws nationally, why would the six registered Democrats vote to put this on a January ballot? It is because they are betting that a low turnout election will make this bond more likely to pass.

Originally, the school board tried to schedule this vote in December, but thankfully failed on a clerical error. Even with a January vote, the design of the election timing was so that there wouldn’t be organized opposition to the bond.

There are several well-meaning parents who are enthusiastic about this school bond. In a low turnout election, they will make up a larger portion of the electorate than they would in November making it easier to pass the bond.

The board has claimed that they wanted this vote in an off-cycle election so that this bond wouldn’t be associated with other political campaigns, but this campaign has been completely political.

Before the proposal got a public hearing, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and City Council members Emily Jabbour, Phil Cohen, and Jim Doyle endorsed the proposal.

There are plenty of reasons to vote against this bond such as the fact that it costs $170.6 million more than the average budget for new school constructions proposed to NJ voters in the past ten years, was developed without community input, comes with a 20% school tax increase, and has $0 in state funding, but voters should be aware of why the school board scheduled an election in the middle of the winter: To decrease the number of voters so the bond has a better chance of passing.

Vote NO on Tuesday, January 25th.

Kevin Davis
Hoboken resident

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  1. Sadly, their cynical ploy is typical of these sort of bond referendums in New Jersey. It’s antidemocratic, and it’s completely unacceptable in our community. Send a message that this behavior will not be rewarded in Hoboken. Vote NO on Tuesday.

  2. Mr. Davis gratuitously calls out the party affiliation of Board members (“Democrats”) while the Hoboken Democratic Party has stayed out of the Jan 25 election.

    Conversely, the “Vote No” campaign- which Mr. Davis represents- is funded by The Hoboken Republican Party: it’s in small print on their logo, posters and ads. “Paid for by the Hoboken Republican Party”.

    In fact, Mr. Davis has been texting residents for “Vote No”, dishonest fearmongering that their taxes will go up 20% and rents will go up, too. Very creepy. Mr. Davis could be a pitchman for the GOP.

    Yo, Mr. Davis: this is a NON-PARTISAN election.

  3. Why didn’t the Democratic party weigh in? This project is of vital importance to the public schools and the many students of color who attend those schools. What’s the point of even having a democratic party in Hoboken if they are nowhere to be found when public education and communities of color are threatened.

  4. Just hoping that the bond passes so many of these annoying born and raised people standing in the way of progress move out of town. They selfishly don’t want a new high school because they can’t bother to pay $600 a year more in taxes.

  5. Wow Omar what a snob you are. Maybe you are financially secure but many in town are not. Since the cost of the high school would be borne by all citizens and that means every single renter, who if they had money would rather live in a home they owned, will be affected. This is not about being bothered to pay $600 a year more in taxes. This is not about being a Democrat or Republican. This is not about being a parent or not. This is not about being able to pay more in taxes or not. This is about the secrecy and lack of transparency the board used to put this referendum forward. Plus they have never calculated the cost of the maintenance of the structure and its sports facilities. I went to all six board meetings looking for answers. I got some basic answers like there are only a little more than 3000 children in town and that includes the pre-K of 3-and 4-year olds. Since the parents are expecting the rest of us to pay for this project, we should all have a say in what is to be built or not. I am hoping that the bond does not pass because the current proposal is not acceptable. We as citizens deserve a say in the future of any huge school school building which mainly is a sports complex. Buildings do not educate children. Good teachers and their parents and others like mentors and tutors do. No B & R is standing in the way of anyone’s education. They are only thinking rationally and democratically about this process. Obviously you are an angry man who only feels he has to denigrate people who happened to live here before you. Please get off your high horse.

      • Sad,

        I was just being decent. I know Omar does not exist. I am just writing to be the better person and still getting my information across. I refuse to lower myself to the dregs that can come out and post in the comments sections by being angry. I use rationale and to my advantage. I have seen it so many times before in posts in the past and refuse to be nasty. It truly amazes me how cowardly some people are that they spew their venom behind monikers.

    • I have to admit that I only saw white or Asian parents at the meetings I went to. That is not what struck me so much to remember, but just how they came across as snobby. The ‘NO’ people stated the facts in their speeches at the microphone. The ‘Yes’ people attacked us personally in their speeches. I guess money never indicated class. They treated me poorly at one of the high school informational meetings because I had a different opinion and did not agree to their fantasy sports complex/high school. I found them highly intolerant to anyone who did not cater to their wants. They figured because they were mothers that they are better than women who do not have children. What arrogance on their part.

  6. Why is it that Hoboken High School has a school body that does not reflect the community of the city? There is a serious disconnect in this town that needs to be corrected. At what point do you integrate the different socio-economic demographics of the town instead of creating more charter schools that seem to lead to unnecessary economic segregation.