PATERSON, NJ - While they may not be able to vote in the upcoming election their views are no less important, their knowledge of the issues that impact Paterson’s schools is firsthand, and their passion for making sure every local student gets a quality education rivals that of the most seasoned education activists.

On Monday, members of the Paterson Youth Council (PYC), a year-long leadership development program by the New Jersey Development Corporation (NJCDC), hosted four of the seven candidates seeking election to the Paterson Board of Education. 

PYC officers  moderated the event and kept the discussion on “topics important to the youth of Paterson” orderly throughout the proceeding.

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Each of the candidates offered their gratitude to the young hosts, urging them to stay civically active and to be heard, including by showing up in force to board of education meeting. 

“Don’t take your voice lightly,” Vincent Arrington urged the students. Arrington would also speak throughout the one hour event on his priorities that include improving technology in the city’s public schools and doing more to prepare students to work in corporate America. “I work for UPS and one thing I don’t see enough of is Paterson people getting hired,” he said.

While Commissioner Emanuel Capers already has nearly a full term on the Board completed he has no desire to serve in higher office at the moment and, when asked, agreed to serve another full term if reelected. Asked whether or not he supports charter schools Capers suggested he was happy to see Superintendent Eileen Shafer recently convene a meeting with the leaders of several of the city’s charters, adding that “I just want to make sure all children in Paterson get a quality education.”

Having experienced the challenges of being a single teen mother, first time candidate Dania Martinez turned the conversation back to providing tools for students to maintain good mental health several times. “Our children need to be better supported” she said when asked about the number one challege facing the schools, and later added that her top priority would be to make sure students, as well as parents, have the tools they need to handle the stresses of adolescence. 

Having been elected to a one-year term in 2018, Robinson Ronon also wants to continue his service and said that he “wants money invested in our children, not special interests.”  With Paterson Public Schools in the midst of transition to local control Rondon committed to continue fighting the state for funding because “we’re not getting enough of it.”

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5. Voters will be able to select up to three candidates for three year terms.