WESTFIELD, NJ — Two Westfield Board of Education candidates — J. Brendan Galligan and Michael Bielen — said that local weekly print newspaper The Westfield Leader ran misinformation about them in its special election issue Thursday.
The amount of space dedicated to information on Galligan is also less than a third of what was given to the other candidates.
Horace Corbin, publisher of The Leader, declined to comment.
Galligan said that the candidate statement posted on TAPinto Westfield, which contains biographical information, was also submitted to The Leader on or around Oct. 1 and again at 4 p.m. on Tuesday of last week, the afternoon before the publication goes to press.
“To be clear, I don't believe it was intentional,” Galligan said. “The Leader has generally covered all candidates equally, for all offices. I think they try to be as impartial as possible. Trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I think it was just an honest mistake on their part.”
In the information it did run about Galligan, the paper printed that he was pursuing a degree in civil engineering by taking evening, weekend and online classes. Galligan said he studied civil engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, but eventually finished his degree elsewhere in management.
“The part about pursing an online civil engineering degree was first misquoted by a now defunct upstart magazine — I think it was called Westfield Today — back in 2012, and I think whoever wrote the article just copied/pasted from that,” he said. “I don't know why they would use that, when it didn't come from me and wasn’t directed to their publication in the first place.”
He added, “Even if they never received my emails, which is a stretch, the basic info about committees and leadership roles is all plainly available on the district site,” Galligan said. “One would think they'd want to validate claims and keep candidate statements roughly the same length for visual symmetry.”
Bielen said he experienced some of the same issues.
“I submitted an article to The Leader before the publishing deadline and asked for a confirmation of receipt,” he said. “When I looked at the online version on Wednesday evening, there were incorrect snippets of past articles. My children are in eighth grade at Edison – not sixth. My career information should have also been updated. I wrote immediately wrote them back and have yet to receive a response.”
Both Root and Leiz said that they had no issues with what The Leader printed about them.
The four candidates are vying for three seats on the Westfield school board.