This November, the Cedar Grove Board of Education will have one seat up for grabs. Two candidates have thrown their hats into the race: incumbent Christine Dye and newcomer Kenneth Horwitz.
With their petitions handed in to the Essex County Clerk’s Office, the candidates are aiming their attention toward residents of Cedar Grove.
Dye, with over two decades of experience in the financial profession, and one term on the BOE, has tenure that gives votersinsight to what they can expect if she reclaims her seat.
“For the past two years I have served on the finance committee. We were successful in both reducing expenses where possible and finding new sources of revenue while remaining within the 2 percent cap,” Dye said, referring to a law Gov. Chris Christie signed in 2010 limiting the amount local taxes can be raised annual.
Dye’s opponent, Horwitz, believes that there are more important things for the board to focus on than monetary caps set by the government. “She celebrates that they kept the budget within 2 percent. I want to make sure the money spent on education makes it to the classroom,” Horwitz told the Times Tuesday, Aug.5.
Originally from Hoboken, Horwitz has lived in Cedar Grove for the past five years. With an education career spanning 15 years, Horwitz has taught K-12 mathematics for almost a decade and is currently working as a lecturer in the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Dye asserted that as a board member, she “has gained experience and insight into the issues concerning the students and community.” The former West Orange resident cited other contributions while on the board, such as “[enhancing] education and extracurricular programs,” Dye stated in an email to the Times.
Some of these programs include a new Lacrosse club, planned to begin this year with a $17,000 budget, according to Dye. Others programs include the foreign language curriculum implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, as well as the new reading specialist recruited for this year’s special education classes. Both courses were created for Cedar Grove elementary schools.
Though the new programs hold promise, Horwitz believes cuts made during the last budget cycle could have been dealt with differently.
“A couple of months ago Cedar Grove Board of Education cut health care for the teacher’s aides in special education, and that really ignited my interest in running,” Horwitz noted.
The 42-year-old has a 3-year-old child in special education, and as a result of the cuts, he felt the need to “stand up for the aides because they’ve done such a good job with my daughter,” Horwitz said.
“I thought they were wrong. And when you think something is wrong, you should do something about it. At the same time, I look at Verona where there are five people running for one city, and here they have trouble getting people. So it’s very much public duty to challenge the status quo,” Horwitz said.
Aside from Dye’s contributions, the mother of three concedes that being a board member has enabled her involvement in district achievements thus far, but she still feels she can do more. “While I feel our board has accomplished much in the last three years, we are not done yet. As our economy continues to provide challenges, my years of experience as a certified financial officer will continue to be an asset to our board,” Dye said.
Despite his lack of experience as a board member, Horwitz says that having a background in education gives him a different perspective than his opponent. “I want to be supportive of teachers. I want to give them the resources they need to succeed, and not blame them when they don’t,” Horwitz said, adding that he also wants the Cedar Grove Board of Education to be more communicative. “Not many people knew about this decision to cut healthcare, until after it was done.”
Horwitz went on to tell the Times that he has noticed other Board of Education members use Facebook and Twitter to communicate with constituents. “I have a Facebook, and I have a Twitter to post issues of education. I would use both to communicate with the public even after the election,” Horwitz said.
Since moving to Cedar Grove nine years ago, Dye says she has made community involvement essential to her schedule. She is a member of the Junior Women’s Club, the South End FSA, girl Scouts and her neighborhood association. Now with all that’s on her plate, Dye still feels she can handle the responsibilities that come with serving on the board.
“I have demonstrated my ability to work collaboratively with my fellow board members to address the needs of our student population while remaining fiscally responsible. My family and I have grown to love Cedar Grove and I am very invested in its future,” Dye stated.
“Working with the Board of Education is a natural extension of what I do every day. It allows me to give back to the same community that has helped my daughter adjust to daily life at school,” Horwitz stated on his Facebook page.
Both candidates needed 10 signatures to officially run for the open board seat, according to a representative from the Essex County’s Clerk’s office. One term on the board is three years. The election is scheduled for Nov. 4.