October 20, 2019
Because we are a part of this wonderful community where so many volunteer their time and give back wholeheartedly, we want to collectively share a statement in regard to the SOMA Justice and PARES scorecard to be released in the near future.
Together and unplanned, Narda Chisholm-Greene, Sharon Tanenbaum Kraus, and Carey Smith have not completed the scorecard questionnaire put forth by SOMA Justice and PARES for the 2019 Board of Education election in South Orange and Maplewood.
We believe that the process to “grade” each candidate is not a true and honest reflection of any candidates’ beliefs and stances. According to the instructions shared, the grading is done by individuals who are not a part of our community. We want to be scored by our neighbors and our students—not strangers. As every year has proven, independent candidates not backed by SOMA Justice and/or PARES or those groups’ leaders have not fared well in the scorecard.
Instead we offer our individual platforms, our responses during the numerous debates and forums in October and November, and our discussions with you, our peers and neighbors.
We anticipate that our decisions may bring backlash and continued online bullying. But as individual candidates, we have all pledged to be accountable and transparent, and, with that, we want to share our own personal statements.
Narda Chisholm-Greene: To SOMA Justice and PARES Committee
The questionnaire presented by SOMA Justice and PARES was not completed on my behalf because I sincerely do not believe that my responses would have been fairly assessed by non-community members. I do however stand firm on my belief in my platform as an advocate for all children of this district.
I invite our neighbors and students to take the time to speak with me directly, attend any debates or watch previous ones, as well as visit my website Nardaforboe.com to learn more about me.
As the discussion around “Special Interest” groups has garnered attention; I would like to be clear that I respectfully appreciate all voices and will actively listen to all voices. However, I will not be bought or bossed by any groups.
In a community that embraces all and appreciates all; I want us to focus on rallying around our children to ensure they get the best education and support our tax dollars can buy.
Let’s bring SOMSD together and make it the most sought after school district in the country.
Sharon Tanenbaum Kraus: To Jane Bleasdale and the SOMA Justice and PARES communities:
I regret to inform you that I am unable to complete the SOMA Justice and PARES scorecard for the 2019 Board of Education election for South Orange-Maplewood. While I remain dedicated to my campaign, the district, and, most importantly, the students, the time constraint of the questionnaire limits my ability to adequately fill it out.
I had hoped the candidates would be given at least two weeks to complete the form—a desire I stated to the member of PARES who reached out to me in early August about the scorecard. I responded that I looked forward to answering all of the questions but asked that it be sent with a sufficient advance of deadline. As many of you are aware, I, like many other candidates, juggle a full-time and commuting job, a family with young children (and all of the scheduling that accompanies them), and this campaign.
I am disheartened that the questionnaire was sent on September 25 and given a deadline of October 4. While 10 days would normally be a tight turnaround in any instance, the particular 10 days that SOMA Justice and PARES sent out their forms include Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days, the most important time of my religion. That coupled with work ahead of the holidays and travel for the holidays means that I cannot adequately answer these questions on the scorecard.
However, I believe that my views on all of the issues, including Code Red Drills, the Long Range Facilities Plan, and other pertinent topics, can be heard at any of the many debates and forums in October and November, including the PARES and SOMA Action event on November 3. I also am always willing to talk or email with community members about their concerns or my views on these matters and more.
So while my scorecard may not be completed, my positions on all of its topics will surely be communicated. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Carey Smith: To the SOMA Justice and PARES Communities:
I, as well as some of my opponents in the 2019 South Orange/Maplewood Board of Education Election, were unable to complete the SOMA Justice and PARES Scorecard for 2019. I personally was unable to complete the questionnaire, in the very short time-frame that was given, due to various work commitments, the Jewish Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), as well as other election commitments that I had made prior to getting the questionnaire. Answering the questionnaire within the short time-frame allotted would not have enabled me to adequately convey my thoughts and opinions. I remain dedicated to this community, to the school district, as well as to our students. My views on all the issues can be heard and have been heard at the debates/forums that have already occurred or that will occur in the very near future. I will be attending your event which is scheduled for November 3rd where I will express my thoughts and views regarding the issues that this community holds dear to their hearts. Sincerely, Carey P Smith
### For further inquiry, please contact the individual candidates at their respective emails