LETTER: Pancholy and Meyer Will Bring Commitment, Passion and Experience

by Amy Forman
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Five community members are running for three seats on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education this year: Regina Eckert, Nubia WilsonBill Gifford, Ritu Pancholy and William Meyer. Eckert, Wilson and Gifford are running on the “Students Come First” ticket. Pancholy and Meyer are running on the “Doing Better, Together” ticket.

Read more about the candidates in Village Green’s “Ask the Candidates” series on busing/transportation, access & equity, the Superintendent and BOE functionality.

Ritu Pancholy and William Meyer (credit Mauri Solages Photography)

To the Editor:

As always, I am grateful to the Village Green for offering BOE candidates a platform to share their opinions directly with the community in the Q & A series. We are fortunate there are so many opportunities to learn about these candidates, including debates and other in person and remote events.

Based on my research and personal experience I am thrilled to support Ritu Pancholy and Will Meyer. (It was my intention to include a third candidate in this letter, but I am honoring that candidate’s request not to be individually endorsed separately from their slate).

I have been intensely involved with the district for over 15 years. I held various volunteer and paid positions that provided direct experience with SOMSD students and staff. I was PTA President, Co President of Presidents Council and a member of more district committees and student programs than I can remember. Professionally I coordinated the Achieve Volunteer Tutor Program for nine years, working in our schools (and on Zoom during COVID) with K-12 students every day.

I first met and worked closely with Ritu when I volunteered for SOMA Action. I was impressed (and grateful) when she agreed to step up and serve as President when her predecessor moved out of the state. Ritu didn’t seem to miss a beat as she efficiently managed a lot of work and a lot of personalities! She led the growing organization and was instrumental in its success. Ritu is committed and passionate about our community and making the world a better place for all families. I was delighted to learn she was a BOE candidate and am eager to vote for her.

I did not know Will before this year but have now attended many forums and events and he has impressed me each and every time. As a special education lawyer Will has invaluable experience with families and schools. This is an area that has been especially challenging in our district. We would be very fortunate to have Will’s expertise and advocacy as a BOE member. He is clearly devoted to children. In addition to his work as an attorney Will is a dedicated volunteer in our community. And as someone who has served as an elementary school recess coordinator I know he must have the patience of a saint and a good sense of humor! I can’t wait to vote for Will.

With no incumbents in the BOE race this year there will be three new members, one third of the board. It is especially important that they are able to hit the ground running. There is always a steep learning curve but these candidates are knowledgeable, thoughtful and engaged. I am confident they understand the role of the BOE and will be able to work well together.

I want to thank all of the candidates for running this year. I believe they deserve our appreciation and respect for being willing to take on a herculean task.

I am available to talk with anyone who wants to hear more about my experience and perspectives, about the election or really anything district related. The Village Green has my contact information and I am always happy to start or continue a conversation. I too believe we do better together.

Amy Forman
South Orange, NJ

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