The candidates include the three incumbents - Dr. Peter J. Donnelly, Suzanne Mack, and Franklin L. Williams - as well as candidates William P. Frasca, Rev. John H. McReynolds, Anthony Morelli, Carolyn Nelson, Sandra Samaniego, Frances O. Thompson, and Arnold Williams.
This week's edition profiles four of the candidates according to alphabetical order: McReynolds, Morelli, Nelson, and Samaniego. Several candidates were profiled in last week's edition (www.jerseycityreporter.com). And the remaining candidates will be profiled in the next issue of the Jersey City Reporter.
The board consists of nine members with three-year terms who meet on the third Thursday of each month. Members take on an advisory role to state-appointed Schools Superintendent Charles Epps, because the Jersey City school system is currently under state control and has been since 1989.
The board oversees one of the largest and most heavily funded school systems in New Jersey, with an approved budget of $627 million for the 2007-2008 school year.
However, legislation was approved in 2005 that will start the process of moving control of some sectors of the schools system back under city supervision early next year. That would change the board's role from advisory to more proactive in overseeing how Epps and school administrators run the system.Board of Education candidates
Each of the candidates running in the school board election was asked to give their answers to the following questions (within a specified word count):
1) Why are you running for a seat on the school board?
2) What major goal do you want to accomplish if elected to the board?
3) What is your view of serving on the board as the school system transitions back under local control?
Rev. John H. McReynolds A native of Alabama, McReynolds has been pastor of the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Jersey City for the past 21 years. He studied in Chicago at the Moody Bible College and the Baptist Institute of Chicago. He currently resides in the Bergen-Lafayette section of the city with his son, one of his five adult children.
McReynolds along with Dr. Peter Donnelly and Sandra Samaniego are being endorsed by former Jersey City mayor and current school board member Gerald McCann.
Question 1: "I am running because I feel that I can be an asset to the school board and to the young people of this city. I figure I can do that which is right for the kids."
Question 2: "I want to focus on what we can do to upgrade the education here in the city. But first I would like to get [onto the school board] and then when I get there see what is going on, and then I will be able to voice my opinion."
Question 3: "I think it's a good thing. I feel [that] if the city, and the parents and the unions can get together, then the school system can do a great job."
Anthony Morelli Morelli was born and raised in Ridgefield Park but moved back to Jersey City after he graduated from high school. Morelli worked in the construction industry for about 20 years as the member of various local unions. He also worked for six years for the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, and has been employed for the past three years as a truck driver for Hudson County Parks Department. Morelli is single with no children.
Question 1: "I am really new to the board, but what I see in local government is so much waste, and I figured I would start with the Jersey City school system. I know there is a lot to learn, but that's pretty much where I stand."
Question 2: "I can't really look at things until I am on the board. However, my biggest thing is there is no waste, no favoritism, and I am against corruption."
Question 3: "I think the school system would turn around if it went back under local control, but there would have to be minimal government control. Government sometimes works if you have people with common sense, but if it doesn't work, there are egos involved and the kids get hurt."
Carolyn S. Nelson Nelson is born and raised in Jersey City, where she attended public schools, graduating from Lincoln High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Virginia State University and a master's degree in counseling from New Jersey City University. Nelson is a mother of two children and four grandchildren.
Nelson lived most of her adult life in East Orange, where she served on that city's Board of Education for five years.
She worked from 1977 to 2006 for the Jersey City school system as an administrator and is a certified EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) investigator on issues pertaining to harassment and discrimination in the Jersey City school system. Question 1: "I believe my experience serving as a [East Orange] school board member for five years certainly gives me some background as to the responsibilities of being on a school board. And that to me means a commitment, first of all, to the school children in the Jersey City public school system and then to the employees."
Question 2: "I think one [goal] would be high instructional and student expectations. I think if we tried to raise the bar on the academic expectations of our students and teachers, our students would be able to meet their highest aspirations."
Question 3: "I think [the transition from state control to local control] would be another exciting time. I feel hopeful and encouraged, and it will just be another part of the journey. And I hope it will bring more opportunities to our school system." Sandra Samaniego Samaniego grew up in the East Harlem section of New York City, where she attended public schools. She is employed as a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
She earned a bachelor's degree from Hunter College, master's degree in social work from Columbia University, and a doctorate from City University of New York.
She lives in the Journal Square area of Jersey City with her boyfriend and has no children. Question 1: "I was asked by a number of people to run in the election including Mr. [former Mayor Jerry] McCann since I am a woman and Latina and I have a Ph.D. I said 'Why not?', and I think my input can be helpful."
Question 2: "I think I will learn everything I can since I am new to the board. I can soak information up like a sponge. I would definitely try to help people be more aware of what is going on in the school system."
Question 3: "I hope the school system going under local control will be a good thing because it will become so significant that parents will feel proud to send their kids to Jersey City schools." Comments on this story can be sent to email@example.com