"I had a wonderful year serving on the board," said Dunn, a retired preschool teacher, owner and operator, who is among a field of 11 candidates seeking four seats in Tuesday's Board of Education election. "Once people got to know me, they realized that I knew practically every phase of education. I feel like I've been able to accomplish a lot and I want to continue what I started."
To keep up with the complexity of the election, one might need a scorecard or at the very least, a checklist. Eight candidates are vying for three three-year terms. And three candidates are vying for a one-year term.
Dunn is one of three current trustees seeking re-election to a three-year term, along with current board members Maria Gonzalez and John Habermann.
Incumbent Patricia Turnbull is seeking another one-year term.
There is also a ticket backed by the Guttenberg Education Association, the 80-member teacher and staff union that serves the township's lone school, Anna L. Klein School. The teachers have been working without a contract since the 2001 school year.
Mario Falato, a long-time civic activist who has sought election in several aspects of government in the past, including the upcoming municipal election for Township Council in June's Democratic primary, said he is pleased to be on the ticket of candidates that received the support of the GEA. He is running for a three-year term on the same ticket with candidates Delores Loppe and Vasilios "Bill" Scoullos. Also on their ticket is Wanda Lanzo, who is seeking a one-year term.
Robert Johnson and Dean Mannion also are running for three-year terms. Diana Velez is running for a one-year term.
This Board of Education election has drawn a different sense of attention because of the GEA endorsements.
Negotiations on a new contract have reached an impasse, and a state-appointed arbitrator has been assigned to try to settle the issue.
Falato, who said that his appearance on the Board of Education ballot has nothing to do with politics, maintains that there are other aspects of the current Board of Education administration that concern him.
"I don't like the fact that they have imposed a gag rule at board meetings, not allowing the general public to speak unless it appears on the agenda," Falato said. "I was made aware of the wrongdoings by a group of concerned parents who want someone to take charge and get these people out of there."
Recently, a PTO president was asked not to volunteer for further school activities, and she said she believed it was in return for criticism she gave at a board meeting.
Said Falato, "We want everything in the forefront. We don't want to have someone tell us that we can't speak because it's not on the agenda. That's nonsense. Right now, the Board of Education is not being accountable and accessible to the public. I'm not positioning myself here as a politician. I'm just a concerned citizen that wants to see something done."
But he is a concerned citizen who is also running for Township Council.
"One does not have anything to do with the other," Falato said. "This is my first priority, the Board of Education elections. We want to straighten the mess out."
Falato appeared at a forum organized by the school's Parent-Teacher Organization Tuesday night.
"I thought it came off very well," said Falato, who counted about 40 people in attendance at the forum. "I thought they asked poignant questions and I hope they liked what they heard."
Dunn, who is not aligned with any ticket, said that she hopes her record over the past year will carry her to re-election.
"I was able to give workshops to the teachers that were well received," Dunn said. "I spent a lot of time working with the development of the pre-school classrooms. It actually turned out to be a blessing for me. When my husband died, it was a terrible shock to me and I didn't know what to do. But when I'm with those children, I feel like this was right for me. The children know me and the teachers know me. I think I've been able to accomplish a lot."