Members of the City Council denounced the board of education election date change from April to November during Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Last week members of the school board voted – 5 for and 4 against – to move the board of education election to November starting in 2014 in a hush-hush emergency meeting that coincided with last week’s council meeting, making it impossible for those who attended the latter to attend the former.
“School board in its wisdom voted to change the school board elections from April to November,” said Jonathan Hodges, one of the school board members who voted against the election change, to the council. Hodges attended the televised meeting to inform the public of what happened last week at the emergency meeting.
“I was saddened to hear that, I am not in favor of that move. I was not happy because of what will take place in November,” said Anthony Davis, the 1st Ward councilman, who said he will attend the next school board meeting to have his voice heard. Davis told the audience at the council meeting to each bring 10 people into the next board of education meeting to let the board know the city is against the election change.
Others similarly reacted the election date change. “I was very dismayed at how fast that move was made,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. He noted that the vote was done in such a way is to prevent the public from attending it. “The vote was serendipitously scheduled on a Tuesday night,” said McKoy.
“You are taking the most important body in the city — the body that takes care of the welfare of your children — and you’re immersing it into this huge political morass,” said Hodges, who read out the names of all those who voted for the resolution. Hodges named, Chrystal Cleaves, Christopher Irving, Manny Martinez, Kenneth Simmons, as those who voted for the move; when he mentioned the name of Corey Teague, who is positively regarded by most residents as being the voice of parents and a staunch supporter of children, McKoy said, “That probably was the most disappointing vote.”
Most agreed that the date change to November would heavily politicize a local election. Julio Tavarez, the 5th Ward councilman, asked, “How do you move an apolitical entity to the most political day of the year?”
“I don’t think independent candidates, those not aligned with the party system, will have a fighting chance moving forward to being elected in the school board,” said Kenneth McDaniel, councilman at-large.
“They will argue that moving the board election to November saves money, but you cannot put a value on your independence,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. He asserted that it was not about saving money, it was more about letting few political bosses control the outcome of city elections due to the large amount of money, more than half-billion that the board controls. “We don’t want a few political bosses controlling the outcomes of elections,” said Morris.
A number of council members said they will attend the upcoming board meeting set for September 18th, 2013, to express their opinions against the move. And many hope others will show up to the event to tell the board this was not in the best interest of the city. Morris said, “That vote was not in the interest of Patersonians.”
“It’s not too late to have the board reconsider,” said Hodges, who explained that the resolution could be reversed if one of the five individuals who voted to pass the resolution come out against it.