The Belleville United Coalition will sponsor a Candidates Forum for those seeking election to the Belleville Board of Education on Monday, Oct. 27, at the Belleville Seniors Center, 125 Franklin Ave.
The event is slated to run from 7 to 9 p.m.
Robert Braun, former longtime education writer for The Star Ledger, will serve as moderator.
Five people are running for two open 3-year seats on the school board. Trustee William Freda isn’t seeking re-election and former Trustee Joseph Longo resigned earlier this year after his election to the Belleville Township Council.
BUC President Jeff Mattingly said that four of the five candidates have accepted invitations to attend the forum. They are: Gabrielle Bennett, Patricia Dolan, Erika Jacho and Ralph Vellon.
Mattingly said that candidate Christine Lamparello “has a scheduling conflict concerning giving testimony about services for the severely disabled” and is considering sending someone to represent her.
According to an announcement posted by the BUC on NutleyWatch.com, the forum “is a non-partisan event designed to give the candidates a unique opportunity to express their views and positions on a wide array of vital issues currently affecting our troubled district.”
As guests enter the Senior Center, they will be invited to submit questions for the candidates on 3-by-5-inch cards which will be collected soon after the forum begins. Braun will choose the questions which he will then present to the candidates on a rotation sequence.
The forum will be videotaped and made available to the public through the local cable access station and via internet posting.
Some background on the candidates: Bennett has served as a committee member of the Belleville High School Business Employment and Technical Advisory Council; Dolan, whose daughter is a 2013 Belleville High graduate, says, if elected, she will support teachers’ needs and “make sure the excessive, needless overspending will stop” under her watch; Jacho is a Belleville High alumna who has served as School 9 PTA president and was an unsuccessful candidate for the board in 2012; Lamparello has chaired the Belleville Special Education Advisory Council; and Vellon, a Navy veteran with two children in the public schools who has a master’s degree in nursing and is pursuing a business administration degree, says he supports “reform” of the school system and would work to give teachers “support” and “respect.”
Dolan and Vellon have been endorsed by Belleville’s Voice of Teachers in Education, a political action committee comprised of local teachers.
– Ron Leir