To the Editor,
There are a lot of great, new and experienced people running for SOMA Board of Ed this year, after a few years of uncontested elections. Sometimes people ask who I am voting for in the Board of Ed election. This year I am making two choices public, by endorsing Elissa Malespina and Annemarie Maini for the Board of Election. Yes, they are on different “tickets.”
I’ve known Elissa for several years. She is honest and speaks her mind. She has a foundational sense of right and wrong. I have confidence in the decisions that she will make in the very tough budget situation that is facing our Board. Where balance is required in fiscal situations, she will use good judgment. Elissa knows everything there is to know about what is going on in our schools. I recently attended a coffee for her team, and as each question was posed, the English teacher, the new superintendent, the gun at the MMS, security procedures, baseball coach, the teacher contract, you name it, she not only stated her observations and thoughts succinctly and persuasively, based on facts, but she knew the “inside baseball” of what had occurred which greatly informed her position. When she speaks, there is a lot of nodding. Finally, I love Elissa’s focus on technology. As my own children went through school, there were times that innovative and creative use of technology should have or could have saved the day, avoided the missed lesson for a sick child, or performed numerous other useful and enriching educational functions. Elissa really knows how to implement these improvements. She won a national award on this topic, and has written a book to boot. Talk about a rock star!
I got to know Annemarie Maini while serving on the West Montrose Neighborhood Association board with her, and she owns and runs the pre-K school my son attended when he was small, South Orange Country Day School. She has served in leadership of the Home School Association. We’ve had many discussions about our children, all children in our district, and the policy debates du jour. Serving on a board of a non-profit requires a lot of the same types of skills as an elected board—ranging from avoiding potential liability to handling constituent requests and relations with elected leaders with grace, finesse and respect amidst competing priorities. Annemarie cares deeply about everyone’s achievement. She gets projects done and policies implemented as promised. She is a diplomat who is always concerned about building consensus in the community, and on the board. She will be an asset to the Board.
Bottom line, it would be a good idea to vote for Elissa Malespina and Annemarie Maini on Tuesday November 3. With so many great people running, your other choices will be great ones too. Please vote for three.
Janine Bauer is a former Trustee of the Township of South Orange Village.