Dear Westfield Residents,
With great sadness, I write to you that I am suspending my campaign for a position on Westfield Board of Education. While I am confident in my knowledge and ability to lead, my new home is a little far away for me to attend the regular meetings and committee assignments that come with the job.
Often times, politicians run in order to make a point, rather than to win the election. In that regard, I am proud to say that my campaign has been successful. As technology accelerates, we must move along with the times. My campaign proved that parents, students, and teachers are frustrated with dysfunctional technology in classrooms. Parents, grandparents, and relatives should have the privilege to live stream sports, theater and musical performances. Any concerned resident should be able to stream board meetings, too.
Westfield residents are extremely open to having a student voice on the board, which means that together we must pressure our school board to create a student advisory position immediately. There are many ways to succeed outside of the classroom, so I urge you to push for increased funding for extracurriculars. We must add more AP classes in the high school level and provide more individual attention to students in the elementary and intermediate-school levels. These concerns arose after 12 years experience in Westfield Public Schools, and I assure you that every one of them will improve learning.
I unfortunately report that my campaign has revealed that we must not only revitalize our board, but reinvigorate our school board bureaucracy. Residency was a legitimate concern, and I listened to it my withdrawing my name from the ballot. However, I was extremely disappointed when an ex-board member brought my political affiliation into question for no reason other than to smear my name. His caustic, condescending tone demonstrated his unwillingness to listen to feedback on his programs, which shows he lacks the open-mindedness necessary for public officials. He publicly dismissed me and treated me as a child, rather as a college-bound adult who met all the qualifications for board candidacy. That individual still is a fundamental part of several committees, even though he resigned for disreputable reasons. As a town that prides itself in character, I know we can do better.
I would like to personally thank J. Brendan Galligan, who is currently on the board, for immediately reaching out to me after I declared my candidacy. I met him last October while volunteering, and he immediately took the opportunity to ask me for student feedback on board policies. When I met with him a second time to discuss my candidacy, he provided me with tools that made me the best possible candidate, albeit the fact that I was his competition. He is someone who truly cares about his position and the people of Westfield, and as a recent graduate of Westfield, he understands modern approaches to improve education.
I’d also like to thank Michael Bielen who also shared the same concerns as me while on the campaign trail. As a parent of Westfield students, he knows the concerns of Westfield students and is also directly affected by them. I’ve met him several times in town events, and he is proud, knowledgable member of Westfield who deserves the opportunity to serve this town.
I will vote for these individuals in November, and I encourage those who liked my message to vote for them as well.
I wish everyone the best of luck during the new school year. I will follow my own advice and do the same for mine. Also, make the most of Westfield. After only one week in college, I can say that a Westfield education placed me a step above the rest. Lastly, remember always to strive for the very best for Westfield. Local elections matter. There is always room for improvement, and every change has an immediate impact.
Anthony A. Pericolo