WESTFIELD, NJ — Five people are running for three seats on the Westfield Board of Education this November: Current member Peggy Oster and newcomers Lynn Benner, Simon Cirasa, Kent Diamond and Anthony Marotta.
For this series, each day this week a different candidate will answer the same questions posed by TAPinto Westfield. Candidate’s responses are published unedited, except as needed for spelling and punctuation, in alphabetical order. Candidates who do not respond to our survey will not be included.
Today’s candidate is Kent Diamond:
Q. Please tell us about yourself and why you are running.
Hello. My name is Kent Diamond and I am running for the Westfield Board of Education.
My wife, Carolyn, and I have two small children. Natalie is in the second grade at Tamaques school while James is in kindergarten at St Paul’s Day School. We’ve settled in Westfield years ago as we enjoy the community with its vibrant downtown. And we wanted to raise our children here so they can attend Westfield’s strong school system.
The reason I am running for the board of education is to help maintain this excellent school system of ours and improve it where needed, not only for my children, but for all children in our wonderful town.
2. What is your professional background and education, and how will you use that on the school board?
My education and work experience provides me with the skills necessary to be a productive team member on the board of education. I graduated from Rutgers with a BA in Economics and from Seton Hall with an MBA in Finance. For the past 20 years, I have worked at Dow Jones in a progression of finance-related roles. I have developed budgets and forecasts that have come in under budget and have created detailed labor models that were used in various union negotiations.
I’ve earned my green belt in Six Sigma, where I have used that knowledge to analyze processes and correct inefficiencies, saving my company time, money or both.
One of the keys to success in my career is the ability to create meaningful and positive working relationships with a wide variety of people: from senior executives to associates, from union officials to vendors.
It is these skills which I can bring to the Westfield Board of Education. I believe an effective board member has the ability to work well within the board to achieve our district’s goal of “educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Further, I believe in listening to all sides of an issue as I attempt to gain insight and see the perspective of both sides. I am a supporter of big data and using it to analyze an issue in order to drive an appropriate decision.
3. What do you see as the major issues in this election, and what is your stance on them?
A few of the current issues are:
- Full day kindergarten – which the board has started to research.
- Technology – supporting teachers in their use of it and enhancing classroom learning.
- The maintenance of our schools, which are 50+ years old.
- Keeping an eye on the new apartment buildings and what, if any, impact that will have on our schools. From what I understand, the expectation is not much, but this is something to keep our eye on.
For any issue, I believe in checking your ego at the door, gathering as much information as possible, talking to informed people and making a decision that is best for the community.
To elaborate, this includes talking to people so I can increase my understanding of the issue: talking to those who may be closer to the issue that I am, talking to those who may understand the issue far better than me, talking to those who may be impacted by the board’s decision.
The financial impact also needs to be determined. What’s the cost of doing nothing? If we do decide to do something, then what’s the incremental costs to the district? What’s the capital investment needed? And how will these costs be funded? As a fan of Big Data, what other relevant data can be collected and analyzed to help the decision making process?
I believe in taking a reasoned and thought out approach in deciding how to handle an issue.
4. Is there anything else about you that we should know?
My wife is a middle school math teacher in another district so I can bring that perspective to the board. I can see, through my wife’s daily efforts, what it takes to be an effective and strong teacher. I understand how important it is to support the teachers as they teach our children and prepare them for college and beyond.
I am a proponent of giving back to the community, which is another reason I am interested in the board of education. I am part of the founding committee that recently held our fifth annual 5K Miracles for Myeloma walk/race in Clark, NJ. In our five years, we’ve raised over $425,000 that has been given directly to doctors to fund their cancer research. This greatly exceeded our fundraising expectations when we started this race. It highlights what a small team can accomplish when they come together and work for an excellent cause. For this race, it’s funding doctors’ cancer research. For the board of education, it is providing the best resources and opportunities for our children to succeed in their studies now and to teach them the skills needed for success later in life.
If you elect me to the Board of Education, I offer you the best of my abilities to serve you.
Want to learn more? A board of education candidates night hosted by the Westfield PTSO is planned for Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Westfield High School auditorium, located at 550 Dorian Road.
All candidates have been invited to post statements on TAPinto Westfield. To visit the candidate statements section, click here.
The election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7.