Dear Editor, 

This is in response to Tayfun Selen’s and Karen Swartz’s recent letter to the editor about Stacey Ewald’s support for the $24 million bond referendum that was voted down in 2015. I can speak to this issue with quite a bit of knowledge, as I was intimately involved in ensuring the bond was voted down. I was one of the original members of Education Focused who actively fought this referendum. I attended every meeting regarding the referendum and I do not recall seeing either Karen or Tayfun and I know they did not work with our group to get out the vote to defeat the referendum.

I can say unequivocally that Stacey was not blindly attempting to raise taxes and follow her own agenda with no regard for public input. Rather, she like many of us, felt passionately about improving our schools by continuing to invest in programs and projects that would serve our students. The proposed referendum enjoyed bi-partisan support, as many who vocally supported it, including Board of Ed members, were Republican.

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Whenever I engaged Stacey on the issue, she always responded professionally, never resorted to nasty tactics and had plenty of evidence to support her position. When the town voted the referendum down, she accepted the town decision and worked to have a new referendum that responded to the concerns of the community which was later voted on and approved by the community. The results of the referendum were a surprise to everyone. I know that on voting day we (the antis) expected the vote to be close. When it was voted down by a 70-30 margin we were shocked. This notion that she wasn’t listening to the community is simply false. The community she represented at the time, namely the Chatham Schools, was who she spoke for and worked tirelessly to support.

The fact that I could be so vehemently opposed to an issue she supported and could still not only cast my vote for her, but actively campaign on her behalf, is a testament to her character and to what she could bring to this town. So please join me in casting your vote for Ewald, Ness and Sheth on November 7.

Susan O'Brien