Two years ago, I began the Bayonne School Board Choice Movement to bring an elected School Board to Bayonne. Now, after more than 24 months of diligently piecing together a grassroots effort that collected more than 3,000 signatures of registered voters on behalf of this cause, we are fast approaching the tipping point of victory and bringing this public matter to a successful conclusion.
For too long, Bayonne has been saddled with an appointed school board—by a discredited political machine—to the detriment of taxpayers, teachers, and students. Now, thanks to the legal case filed in Superior Court by Bayonne School Board Choice, together with the election of a new council majority and a new administration, which is on record in favor of placing this question on the November ballot, and pushing for its passage; positive change and relief for the taxpayer is at hand.
I welcome immediate legislative action by the city council, so that Bayonne voters can finally be given the opportunity to exercise their right to elect the school board trustees in our community.
That is why I have gone to court to stop and correct this injustice. My brief is currently filed with the Superior Court, but the bureaucratic city clerk’s attorney still wants to delay and negotiate.
However, I do not feel that this issue should be negotiated; rather it should be on the ballot for the people of Bayonne to decide.
I am very pleased that Jimmy Davis made my issue his top priority. In fact, our new mayor even made a commercial honoring and congratulating my committee on our efforts.
Truth be told, Councilman Tom Cotter was the only candidate to circulate the petition and Councilman Juan Perez was the only candidate who championed this issue publicly.
Unfortunately, Gary La Pelusa never supported the cause and never even signed the petition. Let’s hope he does the right thing when it comes up for a vote.
In response to the public comments of Joe DeMarco, Mayor Davis’s chief of transition, I do, indeed, recognize that the city council has the ability to place this question on the ballot without the petition process. However, the city council should act in such a manner whereas it does not severely disenfranchise and discourage all of the signers’ rights to referendum.
Accordingly, while I welcome the city council taking positive action on this issue, they should do so in a manner that recognizes the sentiments of the signers of the petition, and acknowledges the work that the Bayonne School Board Choice Committee did in generating and collecting support for this great cause and enhancing the grassroots democratic process. Let’s give credit where credit is due. The people of Bayonne deserve the credit.
MICHAEL J. ALONSO