BLOOMFIELD, NJ - Tom Heaney is a first time candidate for a seat on the Bloomfield Board of Education. He moved to the township 17 years ago when his first son was born. The Heaneys have 4 children ages 17, 14, 10, and 5. Their oldest son will be a senior at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. Another son will be a freshman at Bloomfield High and two of Tom’s children are attending Fairview Elementary. Tom is a 1981 graduate of Rutherford High School and that year his favorite song was "Comes A Time" by Neil Young.
TAPintoBloomfield interviewed Tom August 21.
TAP – Congratulations on having the top ballot position.
TH: Thank you. It was exhilarating watching the spinning bingo type machine. When I got top position, everyone in the audience cheered.
TAP: Tom, what is one thing the voters would be surprised to learn about you?
TH: I think the voters would be surprised to learn that I have an in depth technical background in Network Engineering and infrastructure. With such a technical background I can help inform policy on how to better educate students STEAM programs.
TAP: What is the #1 reason or what drove you to run for a seat on the Board of Education? I decided to run because…
TH: It is is my time to give back to the community and to the Bloomfield education system. I need to help make the system better for the children of Bloomfield.
TAP: How do you think being a parent of a high school student in parochial catholic school will be a benefit to the district?
TH: If I am elected I can take what works there and it may be a benefit in Bloomfield as well.
TAP: As a citizen and homeowner, what do you think is the greatest asset of the Township of Bloomfield?
TH: Bloomfield’s greatest asset is diversity. I see it as a young and growing town.
TAP: As a citizen, what has been your biggest contribution to the Township/Community?
TH: I have helped many scouts earn their Eagle Scout status. I am a committee leader in a cub scout pack of over 100 kids; assistant scout master of Troop 22. We teach fundamental skills like how to cook and clean for yourself; things not taught in school. Also, I am active with the Morris Canal Greenway – I’m on the team that just got historic landmark designation for the Collins House.
TAP: What is your # 1 quality that makes you stand out from the other 4 candidates? How would you complete the statement: I am the only candidate who….
TH: I am the only candidate who has an in-depth technology background. I’m a certified network engineer. I will use these skills to apply efficiencies on the board and in the district.
TAP: Bloomfield has seen a great deal of residential development in the last several years. The Parkway Lofts, the Green, Avalon, and development on the old Hartz-Mountain property have brought hundreds of new residents to town. Another new building is being built on the Ferrand Street parking lot. How should Bloomfield Schools plan for the potential increase in enrollment from these and other potential developments?
TH: From what I understand, the schools are already at maximum capacity. Any long term plans by the BOE needs to include acquisition of new property; as well as adding on to existing structures where possible.
TAP: What one idea do you have to increase flow of info from District to parents and community and flow of ideas/feedback from parents/community back to the District?
TH: I would increase the use of smart phone technologies and social media platforms as an open forum for people to discuss ideas.
TAP: As a candidate what do you think is the #1 challenge facing the school District in the next 3 years?
TH: Of the many challenges that I will face as a Board member over the next 3 years, school funding from the state will be one of the most critical. I also see the intrusion of charter schools as a high priority challenge. I am against charter schools.
TAP: Bloomfield School District passed a “Safe Routes to School” resolution which made the Board and citizens more aware of the importance of safety for students. The Bloomfield Health Department is also creating “Travel Plans” with funding from Easy Ride. What one specific idea do you have to encourage more students to bike and walk to school.
TH: I would add bike lanes to our roads. Bike lanes demarcated by a painted marking on the roads leading to our schools. Several schools need bike racks for students to lock up their bikes when they ride to school.
TAP: Where do you stand regarding the importance of athletics and extra-curricular activities in the overall school curriculum: Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important. Why?
TH: It is ‘Very Important’ to have athletics, intramurals and also the arts and music programs. My children have benefitted greatly from the extra-curricular activities in the Bloomfield schools.
TAP: A friend of the Bloomfield district makes a $1M donation and gives you 100% sole discretion to allocate the money to one project or educational area. How will you spend the money?
TH: That’s a wow question. I would use the money to expand current facilities and acquire new facilities for the growing number of students in our district.
TAP: What book are you currently reading or what TV series are you following?
TH: I am reading “Paper Towns” by John Green. The show I am following is ‘Game of Thrones.’
TAP: Who was your favorite teacher and why was he/she your favorite?
TH: My father was my greatest teacher. He taught me tolerance, patience, understanding, love and how to listen. He was a great man. He died on Father’s day 5 years ago.
TAPinto: What is your campaign slogan?
TH: “Vote Ballot One for Your Daughters & Sons”
TAP: What is the best way for the Bloomfield voters to reach you?
TH: Email me at email@example.com I am also creating a Facebook page.
TAP: Anything you would like to say in closing to the citizens of Bloomfield?
TH: I hope to earn your vote on November 7 I will be walking around to introduce myself and extend a hand of friendship.