Elections: Five Questions With...Rozella Clyde

Rozella Clyde Credits: Courtesy of Katie Cassidy

TAP into Montville recently asked the 12 Morris County Freeholder Candidates five questions, similar to those posed at the debate held in Montville recently. Their answers will appear in a series. The following answers are from Democratic candidate Rozella Clyde.

 1. Opening statement: describe your background and why you are running.

I have had two experiences living in Morris County. My first husband’s parents had a home in Denville. Ours was a very close knit-family, so we spent most weekends helping my in-laws on home improvement projects. Our collection was strong. After my mother-in-law passed in 1995, my father-in-law spent the final five years of his life in Morris Hills Center, where I also spent a lot of time. My father-in-law passed in 2002, and my first husband in 2003. 

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I have been a life-long educator, working 42 of my 44 years in the classroom in New York City schools.  My BS was in Social Studies education; my Master’s in School District Administration; and my forthcoming PhD is in Instructional Design for Online Learning. I hold a Certificate in School Administration and NYC Principal’s licenses for Elementary, Middle and Day High School.  I have been instrumental in the creation of Law Studies Programs in 5 different schools and helped launch three smaller learning communities with a focus on legal issues. I have also been an adjunct professor at Hofstra and Pace Universities. I served for six years as the president of the NYC Social Studies teachers association (ATSS/UFT) and held the Local Arrangements and then Conference Co-Chair positions for the Greater Metropolitan NY Social Studies conference for 30 years.

Four years ago, I retired from NYC schools, married my current husband, James Clyde, Jr. and moved to Chatham.  Last year we created Clydeoscope Educational Consultants, LLC, which I currently serve as Educational Director.  My son and daughter have presented us with five wonderful grandchildren.  My son and his family live in Queens and my daughter and her family reside in Huntington, Long Island.  Four years ago we served as advisors for our son-in-law’s successful election to the Huntington School Board.

I have been a life-long democrat and became involved in New Jersey politics two years ago when I supported Mark Dunec’s energetic CD11 congressional campaign.  When I learned that there was an uncontested seat on the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, I joined with my campaign team members, John Von Achen and Mitch Horn, to form Morris County Dems for Freeholder, 2016.  I believe that my organizational experience and my years of experience identifying the issues, determining audience needs, researching options, organizing strategies, developing and delivering reasoned responses and evaluating the effectiveness of the initiatives have developed a skill set that could be put to good use serving the citizens of Morris County.  I have a keen understanding of the law, of addressing procedural, correctional and distributive justice inequities and have already spent decades in public service.  

2.  How do you think the heroin problem in Morris County discussed by the Sheriff candidates should be addressed by the Freeholder Board?

Addiction to opiates has become a focus within the current presidential contests, and is indicative of a problem that has no respect for political boundaries. While vigilant police actions address the supply side of this problem, addiction to opiates, including heroin and cocaine, as well as pain relieving drugs will never be solved without also addressing the demand side. This is a problem that extends across municipal boundaries, and, just like the need to address disease-bearing mosquitos who easily migrate across state and municipal lines, I believe that the Board of Chosen Freeholders has a mandate to address the size and scope of this addiction problem and lead efforts to structure county wide educational, treatment, and rehabilitation initiatives.

3.  Imagine the board finds a 10% windfall (of approximately $34 M) in the county budget.  How would you approach these funds?

My first response would be to thoroughly inspect the accounts. It would be horrible to assume that there was a windfall, and designate those funds for other purposes, and later determine that it was an accounting error. 

If these funds actually were available, I would use them in ways that would support holding current tax assessments level.  There are agencies within county government that fall at the end of the budget, year after year.  I would first look to determine the funding for which of those long- standing programs and initiatives that have been on hold the longest might best be developed to serve the public interests. I am certain that there are parks department, educational facilities and infrastructure initiatives that have probably waited way too long for funding. 

I believe that these funds should be used to enhance public safety initiatives, perhaps address the growing addiction issues, develop greater transparency in county government decision making, and protect the quality of life for all Morris County residents.

If there were funds available, one project I would love to explore might be the creation of an early childhood day care center within a small section of Morris Hills Rehabilitation Center. There are many seniors living in this facility whose bodies are growing weaker, but whose brains still function, and whose families live at a distance from them. There are also many young families with infants who are conflicted by the need to work long hours while also caring for young infants and toddlers. Ample brain-related research exists demonstrating the importance of adult interaction with infants and toddlers. When infants are talked to, sung to, cuddled, made to feel secure and loved, they learn to read and write more quickly. When seniors have meaningful interactions with others, their brains respond as well, keeping them more alert, and healthy. When parents are provided with a safe and secure environment for their children, they then become available for better work schedules. It would be a win/win/win situation.

4. What is your position on an Apprentice Program resolution, requiring contractor-bidders to have an apprentice program?

I think that for the most part, Apprenticeship programs are a win/win situation. They provide the necessary skill development under supervision of master craftsmen to provide the next generation of talented and skilled employees. 

Mandating the program, however, creates other problems.  I think it should be incentivized.  Perhaps, discounts provided, or points added in the bidding process to reward organizations who help provide the future workforce, but I do not think it is fair to penalize small businesses with limited resources that may be able to perform the necessary tasks by requiring them to demonstrate that they have employed a certain number of apprentices for a specific period of time. 

This proposal also raises questions about how many apprentices, of what skill levels, for how long, at what rate of compensation.  While the goals of the program are definitely praiseworthy, the implementation of it on a county level might overshadow any benefits to those seeking to improve the quality of our workforce.

5. What other issues do you think are important, that voters need to know about?

I am extremely concerned about the safety of our public infrastructure. The appearance of lead in the water pipes in Newark public schools, and then in Parsippany Hills leads me to question how frequently and effectively lead levels are tested in other county-wide public facilities like the courthouse, office buildings, jails, public library, parks and our county run educational facilities.  I am also concerned about the level of toxicity in landfill areas. There was a report a few weeks ago about a landfill area in Randolph where gypsum boards were giving off toxic fumes and a solar panel field intended for placement there had to be halted. Several areas of Morris County provide the main drinking water resources for other parts of the state. We have a responsibility to those end users to make certain that the runoff into those reservoirs is free from harmful pesticides and commercial waste products. We need to be concerned about other types of pollution that travel easily in the air, soil, and water, and of course the dangers posed to young families by the Zika virus cannot be ignored.  

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