When I decided to run for the Board of Education, friends who have been through this sort of thing before gave me some valuable advice. First, and most important, trust the voters. Second, be yourself.
Voters can see differences between candidates who sow dissatisfaction just to win votes and open-minded candidates who look at all sides of an issue before taking a stand. They can separate important issues from distractions. And they can figure out who really can work with other Board members and the administration, and who really can’t. Voters know that behavior in a campaign is a sign of how candidates will behave as elected officials. To trust voters is to respect voters.
I want to be on the Board for one reason: to help the community. The whole community. I’m neither pushing a special agenda nor representing a core constituency looking to elevate its concerns. I have always loved education. Along with family support, it’s the most important factor contributing to our children’s future success.
My wife and I came to Millburn-Short Hills in 1994 from New York City. Like many others, we were motivated by the quality of the public schools. Our children went through all levels of public school here and our youngest is now at Millburn High School. We have been very happy with our girls’ education in Millburn. Yes, changes can be made, because even strong institutions can always be improved. And in a global economy, standing still means falling behind. We need to move forward just to keep up, and we need to work even harder to improve our global standings. (I believe we should be thinking globally, not just locally.)
My number one priority is the quality of our education, and I believe we continue to be very strong and are headed in the right direction. As a prospective Board member and member of our community, I want to help our community avoid self-inflicted wounds. The two areas where we are at greatest risk in doing so, and where I can help, are in the budget and in communications. As a corporate finance lawyer for 32 years, I have a lot of experience not only with financial statements and projections, but also with communicating effectively and finding common ground. We saw the projections for operating budget deficits in a few years. They need to be addressed, with community support. Regarding communications, I believe that the Board needs to be more externally focused and to provide greater transparency. Without that, it will over time lose the community support it needs to deal with other issues. I also think we should have a lawyer on the Board (which we now don’t), even just as a matter of good governance.
For more details about my work experience, my community service (including other board experience), my academic credentials and my stands on issues, please visit www.grayformillburn.com.
Thank you for the opportunity to run for this office. I would be honored to serve.