WAYNE, NJ – There are three seats on the Wayne Board of Education (BOE) up for election in November and four candidates are running. One of them will be on the outs, and some believe that the position each candidate holds on the ballot may be a deciding factor in who wins.
“Ballot position has been an issue historically, especially when there is a presidential election,” said current President of the BOE, Cathy Kazan. “In the four-year election cycle, the year of a presidential election brings in the highest number of voters. Unfortunately, many of these voters just press 1,2,3 for the Board of Education.”
Kazan is one of the three BOE members who are up for re-election this year, along with Don Pavlak and Sean Duffy. The fourth candidate is newcomer, Abigail Giordano. Some may find her name familiar, Giordano is the daughter of current Wayne BOE member, Matt Giordano. Should she be elected, it would be a father and daughter serving together on the same board.
“Ballot position is important for someone like me running for the first time,” said the young Giordano. “Incumbents will have the advantage, or disadvantage, of their record. While new candidates will have a position on issues but nothing else but promises of being the best trustee they can be.”
The ballot positions are assigned randomly, and the drawing for positions was done live on Facebook on Monday afternoon by Passaic County Clerk, Danielle Ireland-Imhoff. Don Pavlak's name was pulled first and will hold position one, Cathy Kazan will hold position two, Abigail Giordano will hold position three and Sean Duffy ended up in the unenviable fourth position.
Duffy is not worried about the bad luck of his draw.
“Although I know there is an advantage to being in the top three, I’m not concerned by any means,” he said. “I have faith in the job that I have done as a school board member, I believe I have the respect of the majority of the board and I’ve served the people of the community well.”
Duffy, who also has a father who is an elected official (Terry Duffy holds a seat on the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders) was asked why he thought ballot positions matter. "Many of the people voting in November don't have children in school, so are not following the issues closely. Some of these will end up voting straight down the line 1, 2, 3 because they don't know who any of the candidates are."
The young Giordano knows she was lucky to draw one of the top three positions but knows she cannot rely on position alone.
“The ballot position I have is going to be important, but I cannot simply rest on the fact that I was placed so advantageously,” she said. “I know that I have a lot of work to do to prove to Wayne residents that I am worthy of being a trustee.”
Pavlak is honored to be in the first position but doesn’t feel ballot position should be anyone’s reason for voting.
“Ballot position is not what’s important,” he said. “It is the person, and what they can contribute to the board, children and staff of the school district to guide it through these most difficult times for everyone in Wayne Township.”
Kazan agrees. “In this very important time for education,” she said. “I can only hope that more attention will be paid to qualifications and issues.