I am Zoe Scotto, a member of the Piscataway High School Class of 2020, and I am running for office here in my hometown. It is great to see so many of my peers involved in voting and working on campaigns for candidates who share their values. I thought it would be a great opportunity to run for office myself, and ask for your vote in Column 2 for the School Board. I am running to give students and younger residents in our diverse community a voice in the decisions that affect us. If elected, I would be the youngest Board member to serve in the district and, likely, the youngest female school board member in New Jersey history.
A lifelong Piscataway resident, I served as the Student Representative to the Piscataway Board of Education from 2018-2020. I was especially motivated to run after the Board leaders and members of the so-called “Better, Safer Schools” slate shut me out of important conversations this summer.
I was not allowed to speak when the majority of the Board voted to illegally remove Lt. Ralph Johnson. I wanted to be heard, but instead Kim Lane, Shelia Hobson and other members of the so-called, “Better Safer Schools” slate kept me out of the discussions. I am so glad that Lt. Johnson was restored by the NJ Commissioner of Education, after winning his court battle.
I helped organize a car caravan in support of Mr. Johnson, and mobilized other young people in the school district to speak up. Seeing other people get involved helped me to decide to run, too.
The determination, strength, and forward-thinking of students and young people around me inspired me. I want to be sure that students’ questions, comments, concerns, and inputs never go unheard. I hope to be a spokeswoman for young people, offering new and fresh perspectives to the Board and ensuring that the decisions made are always in the best interest of the student body.
I have also been inspired seeing other women running for office in larger and larger numbers over the last few years. I believe we need more women, and especially younger women, to run and serve.
During my high school career, I was deeply involved with the arts programs at Piscataway High School (PHS). I served as Band President while having a strong presence in Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band, as well as being involved in the orchestra, choir, and theatre programs. I was also Co-Chair of National English Honor Society (NEHS), an organization offered at PHS that promotes literacy in our school and community. Additionally, through my time in PHS’ Writers Guild, I had the opportunity to publish my own work in our 2020 book, “Captured and Released.” Outside of school, I have worked as a Camp Counselor at Piscataway’s Community Center.
I am running with two incumbent members of the Piscataway School Board, Dr. Tom Connors and Shantell Cherry. Both Cherry and Connors voted against removing Mr. Johnson, and the three of us were united in our effort to restore him, as well as integrity and leadership to the Board. We are running together because we believe in “Putting Kids First.” You can find us in Column 2 on the back of your ballot.
Our slogan reflects my experience serving two terms as a Student Representative on the Board. We are committed to amplifying the voice of the student body and the youth. It’s a voice that is too often ignored.
The well-being and input of students should be the top priority of the Board and community as a whole in order to ensure not only that they are safe, but that they are being advocated for. The students are heroes and their thoughts deserve to hold power and weight, which they have displayed through sending letters raising important questions and organizing protests.
I am currently a first year student at Rutgers University — New Brunswick, anticipating a path as an English and Theatre Arts double major from the School of Arts and Sciences. In my free time, I also enjoy dancing, singing, film, theatre, writing, and spending time with friends and family. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this campaign. I appreciate it.