This past Wednesday, the West New York Board of Commissioners and Mayor Albio Sires approved the resolution to have the elected school board referendum placed on the November ballot.
A similar referendum was recently passed in Union City after a petition was introduced there by a group of local activists.
Following in the example of Union City, Bill Parkinson and some volunteers began their own petition for West New York, which was turned in Aug. 20. After being reviewed by the town clerk, the petition was found to have a number of discrepancies and was not going to pass. However, feeling it was important decision best left up to the people of West New York, Mayor Sires allowed the resolution to be submitted for approval.
"The whole petition was fraudulent because they had copied the Union City petition," said Mayor Sires. "In Union City it was done by ordinance. We never did this by ordinance, but I want the voters to choose."
"If I did not have enough legitimate signatures, it would bother me the way he went about it, but I respect what he's doing by putting in this resolution," said Parkinson, 48. "I'm really glad the mayor has seen the light to let the people decide."
The initial petition that was turned in on Aug. 20 had 956 signatures, which was over the required 943. However, after it was reviewed, Parkinson was told that 50 discrepancies had been found, including being 307 signatures short because some were not registered voters. Having been given five days to rectify the problem, Parkinson acquired 322 more, with a more updated list of voters, handing in a total of 1,278. Again he had later been informed that he was still about 24 short.
Then on Friday, Sept. 10, it was announced that the mayor would support the placement of a public referendum for an elected school board on the November ballot, believing it was important enough for the public to decide. The mayor also declared he would campaign vigorously in support of the current appointed board.
"When I led the opposition to the former town administration, I never involved our school system in town politics, and I feel the same way today," said Mayor Sires. "However, I feel this issue is important enough that we should allow the voters to make their own decision."
Despite things not going as planned, Parkinson is pleased to see the people of West New York have been given the right to choose.
"I don't feel I failed in any way, despite the town saying I didn't have enough signatures because the mayor has stated it's important enough," said Parkinson.
Mayor Sires believes in the current appointed school board, and commended them for the job they do, even pointing out that recently New York City had switched to an appointed school board.
"I am very proud of this district," said Mayor Sires. "I'm very proud of the job the board is doing."
West New York has been ranked one of the top Abbott Districts in the state, and with the recent Middle School opening, over 2,000 residents came to visit the school on Saturday, Sept. 11, for an open house.
"They loved it, everyone was happy with it, and they said to keep doing a good job," said Mayor Sires. "This is all a political agenda here."
If the elected school board passes on the November ballot, elections for the positions will be held in April.