My name is Brett Dreyer and I am running for the Cranford Board of Education (BOE). The election on Tuesday marks the end of a tumultuous year for Cranford and the BOE. It started with a proposed plan, called "Reimagine", one year ago to restructure our school district to solve a multitude of persistent problems: full-day kindergarten and lack of classroom space, to name a few. I and many others quickly recognized the proposal would need revision to have any chance of passing a referendum. (My conclusion was later validated by a public survey.) Fast forward one year, the BOE recently formed a group to do exactly that - revise the proposal to find a viable solution that would get broad public support.
It is ironic, as one of the first people to voice my concerns about the Reimagine plan, I am also one of the first eager to leave the drama of the past year behind us. Many voters, and hopefully the minority for my sake, have dug in their heels and either want the 3 incumbents voted out or voted back in. Their stance on this election largely correlates to how they felt about the initial Reimagine plan, a plan that now, mind you, has been off the table for months. Calls to reelect the incumbents with a battle cry of "365!" are met with equal cries to clean house "124!". (These numbers relate to the columns on the ballot that certain candidates are in. I am in Column 1 for future reference, wink.)
My thesis is this: voting strictly for the incumbents, columns 3, 5, and 6, or voting strictly for the new candidates, columns 1, 2, and 4, both offer the same result: another year of divisiveness and negativity. Do parents arguing, playing a winner-take-all game help our children? To the moderate, pragmatic voter, I offer a third option, one that has a battle cry of "Cranford!". Vote for a mix of candidates; there are great options among the incumbents and the new candidates. Challenge yourself to find the best mix of people that, although they may not always agree, can collaborate to get things done. If I win, I don't want to be surrounded by people that share my opinions; that makes me redundant. I want to work with smart people that will challenge me.
Cranford Schools face challenges ahead: we still don't have full-day kindergarten, our schools are aging poorly (like me), classroom space is at maximum capacity, and Birchwood and other housing developments are popping up. Day-to-day challenges like personnel decisions, safety, complying with state mandates, etc must also be addressed. The best way to tackle these problems is through a coalition of smart, hard-working, qualified people on the BOE with diverse backgrounds and opinions. Let everyone in Cranford feel they are being represented on the BOE. But, we can't form a coalition when people have taken sides trying to settle a score from a year ago on a proposal that no longer exists.
I, of course, contend I have a lot to offer the BOE with my background: growing up in Cranford, master's degrees in Accounting and Public Administration, being a parent to a 3rd and 6th grader, 23+ years of government management experience, a lifetime of volunteering, and a truly independent perspective. Please follow me on Facebook if you would like to see more ramblings: https://www.facebook.com/BrettDreyerforCranfordBOE/