Proudly proclaiming no political ties, the West New York Board of Education slate known as the “WNY Independents” say they’re the best fit for the town’s public school district.
“These are independent individuals who have no political affiliations, they’re not political hacks who have tainted our education system in the past 25 years,” Jose “Toby” Alcantara, the team’s campaign manager, said in an interview on Boulevard East Friday evening.
The trio, all seeking three-year terms on the board, consists of Richard Acosta, George Payan and Cheryl Barona.
Acosta echoed Alcantara’s sentiment about have no ties to elected officials or entities, also noting that he’s a lifelong resident of West New York and has children in the public schools.
“We’re all doing it for the passion that we have for our kids in the Town of West New York – what’s best of them. Education is a big thing. Our teachers, I believe, are the ones that mold our kids for the future,” he stated.
George Payan, a 2013 graduate of Memorial High School, reiterated that the BOE needs to get back to focusing on the students, teachers and other personnel.
“This is about the students, this is about the teachers, the parents, this is not about politics: it’s about the school district. It’s about working with the teachers, working with the students, working with the staff members – basically that’s what it’s about,” Payan added.
Additionally, Barona, a third generation West New Yorker, NJIT graduate and engineer, talked about improving science, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) programs in the district.
“I think for me, and our team, technology is developing, and arts even more. Most people don’t pay attention to it, but I think if you can have someone, or a child, be interested in both aspects – whether it’s just a little bit or a not – it’s great because you can be creative and you can also be smart,” Barona reflected.
While it’s not set in stone yet, it appears that the WNY Independents will have optimal ballot position, scoring 1, 2, 3 in the Hudson County Clerk’s ballot drawing earlier this month.
Despite that fact, they will still probably be the underdogs in this scrap, as U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) is backing the “Your Children’s Future” ticket, which includes Trustee Jonathan Castaneda, Adrienne Sires, the congressman’s wife, and Joe Rodriguez, the husband of Freeholder Caridad Rodriguez (D-7).
Another incumbent, Lorena Portillo, is running alongside Jesus Aristy under the WNY Cares banner after one of their running mates withdrew from the race.