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A Lesson in Politics for Bayonne

In a column in the Hudson Reporter, Al Sullivan explained a disturbing reality about this round of Board of Education elections. Al Sullivan writes:
The Nov. 7 election will mark the third year in which Bayonne voters get to choose their Board of Education members rather than having them appointed by the mayor. Bayonne residents are learning the meaning of an elected board the hard way.

Bayonne now faces the reality of politics playing a bigger role in who gets selected as a trustee. Some board members elected in earlier rounds say they are appalled by the fact that politics had reared its ugly head in school races.

Although candidates have run together over the past three years, these were largely loose coalitions of independents sharing costs and such. But this year, the first true political school board slate is running on a united platform.

This concept suggests that candidates who campaign together may later, if elected, vote as a bloc similar to the way many municipal councils do.

Some in Bayonne fear the school board will degenerate into factional fighting similar to what is currently underway in Jersey City, where progressives battle teacher union-backed trustees to steer policy for the district. Indeed, it is expected that those elected in Bayonne this year will have a significant say in who will be hired as the new superintendent of schools.

Bayonne schools, more than other Hudson County towns, have historically served as a political patronage mill, providing jobs for political supporters or well-connected families.

This was part of the reason why some pushed to change to an elected board. But this move to an elected board only opened a Pandora’s box, allowing a less predictable and possibly a more confrontational sort of politics to invade the selection process.

While the Bayonne school race has yet to devolve into the nasty politics of places like Hoboken, some see elections headed in that direction. Early elected trustees also see slate-based elections as threatening the independence of the board, believing members should vote their own minds not as a block.

Read more: Hudson Reporter - A lesson in politics for Bayonne

Committee to Elect Christopher Munoz for BBOED
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