Voters go to the polls on Tuesday, November 5, and they have decisions to make on local and state issues. MyVeronaNJ has been covering many aspects of this year’s election decisions, and we’ve gathered all our stories here to help voters make informed decisions.
Board of Education
There are four candidates running for two seats on the Board of Education this year: Jim Day, Sara Drappi, Glenn Elliott and Lynn Halsey. For the past four weeks, we have been asking them to respond to a series of questions about serving on the BOE. In Week 1, we asked them to explain the role of the BOE to voters. In Week 2, we asked about dealing with conflict because the BOE must frequently disputes among the school community. Week 3 was about best practices in the outside world that they would bring to the BOE. Week 4 was about what might prevent them from fully carrying out their duties on the BOE. In addition, the Verona Conference of SCAs held a forum featuring the four candidates on Tuesday, October 15. You can watch that event in the video below:
The BOE has put two referendums totaling $27.7 million on the ballot this year, its first referendums since the one in 2014 that funded new school boilers, school security and field improvements among other things. This year, the first referendum is $22,273,701 or $14.50 per month ($174 per year) to fund a wide variety of repairs at all six schools, including all new roofs. The current roofs leak badly in places and are causing interior damage. The second referendum is $5,497,802, or $3.50 per month ($43 per year) to expand air conditioning. If the first referendum fails, the second cannot be implemented even if it passes. MyVeronaNJ answered many questions about the referendums here and the school district has a comprehensive page on referendum issues.
Open Space Trust Fund
An open space trust fund is money that a governing body collects from taxpayers and uses to either buy property to prevent it from being developed or to fund the maintenance of existing open space. Verona’s Town Council has put a ballot question up for a public vote to establish a tax of two cents per $100 of assessed valuation on all Verona properties, which will mean an additional $86 in annual taxes on the average Verona house. Twelve Essex County towns now have open space trust funds, as does Essex County itself. The proposed tax would raise about $420,000 annually and the money could only be used for open space purposes. If the question passes, the Council would appoint Verona residents to an Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Committee that will make spending recommendations to the Council. More details here and here.
There are four candidates running for the two seats in the state Assembly’s 26th legislative district, the district that includes Verona: Christine Clarke, BettyLou DeCroce, Verona resident Laura Fortgang and Jay Webber. MyVeronaNJ.com also sent them a series of questions about key state issues that affect Verona. In week 1, we asked the candidates what they would do to provide tax relief. In week 2, we asked about affordable housing, in week 3, we asked about how they would fully implement the school funding formula, and in week 4 we asked for their views on what the state’s role in economic development should be. Webber, who is one of the two incumbents, did not answer any of the questions. On Friday, Mikie Sherrill, who represents Verona in Congress, endorsed Fortgang and Clarke.
There are more election-related stories here, including letters to the editor.