Patch asked each candidate to answer questions to give voters information about who they are and their stances on various issues. We are printing their responses in full, unedited except for spelling or punctuation.
Here are the answers from Micah Bender, who is running with Missy Parker under the slogan Transparency and Community.
Previous elective office, if any:
Does anyone in your family work for the school district or in politics?
Bachelor’s degree in finance, University of Maryland; Master’s in Recreation Management, University of Ohio
Education Program Specialist, Office of Career Readiness, New Jersey Department of Education
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?
I am seeking a seat on the school board because I believe in public education, I believe in our students, and I believe in our community. We are facing very difficult times right now and I believe that with my education and career experiences that I am the right person for the job to help make Brick Township Public Schools the best possible school system it can be.
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is funding and I intend to look very closely at our budget to find ways of saving money that doesn’t include raising taxes, cutting jobs, and closing schools. Obviously, most might answer the pandemic is the most pressing issue facing our district and while that is true, we cannot let the impact of the pandemic take our focus away from our long-term problem of funding. There is no question that this pandemic is negatively affecting our community financially and emotionally, but now more than ever, we need strong leadership on the board who will not turn a blind eye to the problems Brick faced before the pandemic.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking to serve on the school board seat?
There are many critical differences between myself and my opponents seeking to serve on the school board seat. First, I am a father of two children. My son has started kindergarten and my daughter is in second grade. They are attending Veterans Elementary since Herbertsville was closed in July. Being a father of two children who are currently in the school system gives me a reason to fight for what is best for our children because it is effecting mine as well.
Another critical difference between myself and the other opponents is my intimate knowledge of the school system. As a teacher of 14 years and now an employee of the Department of Education (DOE), I have seen the problems facing our educational system first hand and would like to use those experiences to make improvements right here in Brick. I think the combination of being a father of children enrolled in Brick schools plus the unique experience I bring as a teacher and DOE employee are critical differences that will enable me to make significant positive changes to our community while serving on the Board of Education.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
Other issues that define my campaign platform are transparency and community. I believe the board has a moral obligation to be completely transparent with the community it is there to serve. For instance, this should include discussing important topics prior to them being voted upon. Furthermore, I believe transparency and community are correlated; the more the board acts with transparency, the greater the community will then trust the board and that is how it should be.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you will be effective on the school board?
- 14-year high school Math and Business Education Teacher
- Master’s Degree in recreation management
- 1 Current position in the Office of Career Readiness at the New Jersey Department of Education
- 14-year high school football and wrestling coach
- Volunteer Little League baseball coach
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am parent of two wonderful kids and I will fight for all the children of BTPS as I will for my own to make sure that all students have the resources they need to be successful. I am a homeowner and a taxpayer and I will fight for the taxpayers as I will fight for myself, so that we do not continue to see rising property taxes and closing schools. I am a 14-year high school teacher and I will fight for all of the teachers of BTPS to see that teachers are treated fairly and are not without a contract again. I am a certified business administrator and I will fight to see that we are on budget without all of the staff cuts and tax raises that have occurred in past.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
The best advice ever shared with me is simple, but never gets old: listen. I think listening is one of the most important roles of a Board member. As a member of the Board, I will listen to the teachers, the children, the staff, and the community as a whole to bring about the kind of change this town is needing right now.
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