The Secaucus Board of Education has nine members in total, each serving a three-year term. Every year three of those terms expire. This year the terms are ending for board members Joseph Lewis, Dora Marra, and Lisa Snedeker. Lewis is running for reelection. Three challengers are also vying for the seats. Those candidates are Lance Bartletta, Ruby Pantoliano, and Tom Troyer.
Born and raised in Secaucus, Joseph Lewis is a teacher of computer network engineering in Union City.
Lewis says his concerns as a board member would remain the same as before. “It’s still test scores,” said the 38-year-old. “Our test scores have slipped. We have to bring them back up to where they used to be.”
He sees this as a priority, especially with the state due to implement standardized state testing through the PARCC system (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).
“My goal is to make decisions as if every child is my own.” – Ruby Pantoliano
“We asked the voters to take on the burden of a $27 million project and they said yes,” he said of the project to expand and upgrade school facilities.
A senior financial analyst for the Hoffman La Roche pharmaceutical company, Lance Bartletta is 39 years old, having spent about 29 of them in Secaucus where he was born and raised.
Married with two kids in Clarendon School, he said he has a “vested interest in moving this district in a positive direction.
“I have a lot of background in education,” he said. “I was a substitute teacher for a long time, for Hudson County Vocational for the basic skills class.”
Bartletta comes from a family of educators. His mother was a nurse and a health teacher in several area schools, his father was an English teacher and guidance counselor, and his wife is a special education teacher in Clarendon.
“With my background being finance, my primary focus would be finance,” Bartletta said of his goals as a prospective board member. “I would hope to get on the finance committee and give my input as much as I can with the budget.
“I’m just looking to make an impact, whatever committee I can get on that would help this town,” he said.
Ruby Pantoliano has lived in Secaucus for 15 years. A part-time inventory planner for a catalog company, she is 39 years old, with two children in Huber Street School.
“I’ve been volunteering my time with the school system since before I even had kids, with the PTA,” she said. “I’ve been PTA executive board member for three years, in a treasurer’s position.”
Her husband volunteers year-round as a coach for recreation programs in town.
“I’m running because I want to make a difference and I’m excited at the thought of being able to be part of the decision making for our children’s future,” said Pantoliano.
Describing herself as an honest and dedicated person who stops at nothing to achieve her goals, she said, “I don’t have much committee experience but I have experience with raising my kids and that’s good experience.”
“My priority would be to focus on the kids, making sure that everyone is treated equally,” she said. “My goal is to make decisions as if every child is my own.”
Thomas Troyer is 81 years old, a retired school teacher who has lived in Secaucus for 54 years and been involved in education for 45 of them.
A former member of the Board of Education for 15 years in several stints, he also served as commissioner of the Secaucus Housing Authority.
“My whole premise is to try to keep politics out of education and I’ve been successful sometimes,” he said. “That’s what motivates me.”
With two grown sons, Troyer said, “When I moved here we had no high school, so I got involved in building the high school.”
Troyer is proud of establishing a position of truant officer for the school system to investigate families sending children to Secaucus schools from out of town.
His priority as a board member would be to “watch what they’re doing in building the high school. I have experience in construction. I been there before, I know what to look for.”
He hopes to oversee the construction budget. “Someone’s got to be accountable,” he said. “I think I can be an asset.”
The election will take place on Wednesday, April 23. Normally elections occur on the third Tuesday of April. This year Gov. Christie postponed the elections due to the religious holidays.
Polls in Secaucus will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. Poll locations can be found online at https://voter.njsvrs.com.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.