LINDEN—Parents and politicians are again battling for seats on the Board of Education, which rules the $110 million a year public school system.
In 2007, Dawn Beviano and Lisa Ormon created the successful “MOM” ticket, focusing on parental involvement and working to change education with better quality, lower costs and less political interference.
Beviano, who has served as school board vice president and county delegate, is the mother of two daughters attending School 9. She is employed as a teacher at Sunny Kidz, a private preschool located in Linden.
“Parents can accomplish great things for their children and schools,” Beviano said.
Ormon, a training specialist with the Nielsen Company, is the mother of two children diagnosed with autism who are enrolled in the city’s public schools. She says they are the driving force behind her passion for education.
“Parents have to believe their children can do anything… it just takes a little longer for some and I constantly raise the bar,” says Ormon. “My daughter is an Honor Roll student in general education classes and she is a cheerleader for McManus Middle School. I never say what she can’t do… It’s what she hasn’t done yet.“
The Children First Organization has endorsed Beviano and Ormon, along with Manuel Donelson and Sandra Hardy. The four candidates are said to be driven by a desire to see all children achieve more.
Donelson, who replaced former member William Motley when he resigned in November, is running unopposed for the two years left on Motley’s unexpired term. He has lived in Linden since 2002, works at Kean University in Union and serves as a youth pastor at Morning Start Christian Community.
Hardy is a mother and grandmother whose son, Kevin, graduated Linden High as the only student in 2005 to receive the Perfect Attendance Award from pre-K to high school.
She is a registered nurse who has earned advanced degrees in health education and administration. Hardy participated in a host of school activities during her 24 years as a member of the Linden community.
Hardy said, “We need to have policies, educational curriculum and programs that prepare our students to compete in a global economy.”
The city’s political establishment is lining up behind incumbent Susan Hudak, Michael C. Puzio and Judith Martino Dudash, the daughter of former schools Superintendent Joseph Martino.
Hudak, a longtime board member whose husband is the assistant city attorney at the center of controversy over his $100,000 a year part time job, has been largely instrumental in bringing the school district under political control according to some observers.
Hudak’s son is the Linden Democratic chairman who was appointed manager of the Rahway motor vehicle office by the administration of former Gov. Jon Corzine.
Dudash sought appointment as the assistant superintendent of schools last year, and some observers speculate that revenge could be among her motives for running.
Michael Puzio, is the 23-year-old vice-president of the Tremley Point Alliance and a member of the Union County Democratic Committee.
Hudak’s son, in his capacity as the local political boss, is a prominent supporter of Council President Bob Bunk’s campaign for mayor, which is also backed by Puzio, Dudash and other political insiders.
Fourth Ward Councilman Derek Armstead, a Democrat known for his independence from the political machine who is said to be weighing a campaign for mayor, is Ormon’s brother.
Newcomer Dylan Frank is a 2009 graduate of Linden High who is enrolled at Rutgers University and is making his first bid for elected office, while twice unsuccessful candidate Charlette Richardson is making her third effort to win a seat on the board.
There will be several candidates’ nights before the election that offer residents an opportunity to meet the contenders and decide who are the best choices.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!