By Sue Veitengruber
I have a self imposed rule of not using my Facebook page for political views on candidates. My friends’ beliefs and ideals cover the entire spectrum. However, at the risk of a few individuals never speaking to me again, I have questions about certain BOE candidates on the ballot. Board of Education members are supposed to be the epitome of community volunteers. Howell is not “the big city.” So why, I need to ask, is one candidate being funded by state wide Political Action Committees and the Mayor of Elizabeth? The Elizabeth BOE has been fraught with corruption and nepotism. Board officials, including an attorney, were indicted on fraudulently claiming their kids were eligible for free lunches. Staff members were pressured into contributing to BOE members campaigns. Why does that candidate list her name and “politician” on her election FB cover page? This is not what the Howell BOE needs. It is the largest and best K-8 in the state. I am proud to have been part of the reforms in the 80s as a board member for almost 9 years, reforms that succeeding boards built on to continue the excellence in education in our town. We don’t need the Elizabeth political machine determining the decisions and future of the Howell BOE.
I am also dismayed at candidates who have hijacked a very important issue, the rezoning of West Farms Road. Like most Howell residents, I am opposed to the rezoning. However, it is not an issue for the Board of Education election. Statements such as “We need to send a message to the Howell Council” have no place in a BOE election. Don’t campaign on the backs of the Howell students.
My last day on the Howell Board of Education was December 31, 1989.
The next day, I became a member of the Township Committee and subsequently Mayor. Many of you know that I continue my support for the Howell school system through my work on the Howell Township Education Foundation. I also know that being a BOE Member is hard, often thankless job. You will never make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time, but you do need the support of a broad spectrum of residents and staff. Yes it is about the kids, but not just about the parents. There are many residents, like myself, whose children are long out of the K-8 system. I know my school taxes contribute to the value of my property. And this system did very well by my children who are both successful attorneys in this county.
I tend to look at the big picture when voting for candidates. I once had someone ask me how I could support a congressman who was pro-life and a state legislator who was pro-choice. I responded that it is never about one issue. It certainly is not about big city politics or rezoning when it comes to the Howell Board of Education. Tomorrow I will be voting for Chuck Welsh, Jeanne DePompo, and Tim O’Brien. I believe they were faced with very difficult decisions over the past three years, and after taking in all the facts and research, they made the best decisions for the students of the district. I have known two of these people personally for many years. Chuck, in particular, was an outstanding educator , school administrator, and community volunteer ( and my daughter’s high school social studies teacher.) Tim and Jeanne have been active as community volunteers and advanced the educational goals of the Howell system. Yes, there have been controversial issues over the past few years, and you may not have personally agreed with every action taken by the majority of the board, but I do believe these three people are the best choice for ALL Howell residents and the Howell School system. I hope you will consider them as you make your choices in tomorrow’s election. The polls are open from 6 am to 8 pm.