In the over fifty years that I have been a resident of Cranford, I never witnessed the divide that exists within our town. In October of 2018, the current Cranford BOE introduced the Reimagine Plan. For those who are unfamiliar, Reimagine would have eliminated our fabulous neighborhood schools and transformed our beautiful, walking town into a busing city. I listened to countless neighbors, friends and colleagues speak in anguished tones about negative effects this policy would have upon their children and the community. As a lifelong resident, who had the privilege of attending our neighborhood schools, their concerns truly resonated with me. Witnessing the despair and anger that was evident amongst my fellow residents propelled my candidacy.

As a result of the Reimagine plan, Cranford has succumbed to vitriolic behavior and this has trickled down to the BOE race. For example, my wife and I have been attacked for having no children. Even more surprising, there have been social media attacks based upon that I am a retired Cranford police officer. I believe these components of my life are an asset to the board. Please allow me to explain.

As a candidate without children, I can approach the issues at hand without any bias.

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I will not envision how my decisions will benefit my own children, but only how it impacts the close to four thousand children enrolled in the Cranford schools and the tax payers in our town. Additionally, I offer a complementary perspective the to current BOE members, as they are unaware of the rationale for childless residents like myself to remain in Cranford.

One of the most cited reasons for families to move to and raise their children in Cranford is our stellar public school system. Our highly-rated school district also benefits residents without children. The obvious reason exists in the inextricable relationship between school ratings and property values. However, there are other, perhaps more valuable benefits for residents like my wife and myself.

Research supports a strong correlation between quality schools and community satisfaction. In a study published in the Journal of Urban Affairs, the authors Zachary and Jennifer Neal, present a compelling case as to how communities with strong public schools are inevitably found in communities where residents tend to exhibit a greater sense of civic responsibility. Residents in these communities, with or without children, are more likely to benefit from the social network that extends beyond the school system.

I have experienced this sense of community countless times throughout my life in Cranford. Some were in happier occasions as a spectator at town wide events, like the annual Scarecrow Stroll. Others occurred in more trying times, such as after natural disasters, whereas both a resident and a police officer, I witnessed the strong bonds and connectivity of Cranford’s residents.

When I reflect on why residents, like myself make the concerted choice to stay in Cranford, and pay property taxes that are amongst the highest in the United States, I think of the joy that living in this great town brought to me as a child and now as a married man. The top rated schools provided me with the educational foundation to be college ready and receive my degree from Seton Hall University. This coupled with a strong sense of community and civic responsibility, compelled me to dedicate my professional life to serving a police officer and detective with the Cranford Police Department. I would like to continue to give back and serve on the Cranford Board of Education to represent the children of our community and all taxpayers. Please allow me to continue my service to Cranford and vote column 4.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Lopez.