Pam Priscoe is seeking a second term on the Verona Board of Education, and two newcomers are also seeking the two seats that are up for election this November. Today was the deadline for filing to run in the election.
Priscoe, a long-time municipal government employee, was the top vote-getter in the 2018 election, with 3,749 votes. She has served on two committees that were made particularly challenging by the pandemic, Buildings & Grounds and Athletics & Co-Curricular. At a recent BOE meeting she decried the lack of civility that has been shown at meetings this year. “There is a way to ask a question and make your voice heard in a positive way,” Priscoe said. “We all want what is best for our students and staff, but we still have to remember to be respectful. You may not like a decision that was made or how a question was responded to, but remember there is always someone else that does.”
The other two candidates are Chris Wacha and Ron Mueller, who are running as a team. Wacha, a frequent critic of the BOE during the 2020-2021 school year, has been the principal of Haledon Public School, a pre-K to 8th grade school, for four years and was named Haledon’s superintendent in September 2020. Mueller has has had a 25-year corporate career in customer retention and development at Mercedes-Benz, American Express and Volvo.
Mueller and Wacha have posted a seven-point campaign plan to Facebook that contains several inaccuracies. They say that information and data discussed at BOE meetings are not presented to the public in advance of those meetings, but this information has been made available to the public online on the Friday prior to the Tuesday BOE meeting for several years. They also say that they would eliminate the merit bonus for the superintendent, but the merit bonus was eliminated in the contract for Dr. Rui Dionisio approved in February 2020. They also list several items as merit bonuses that were not merit bonus items and say that the BOE members have never voted separately on agenda items, which Verona’s consent agenda format allows them to do. Members have not frequently pulled items for separate votes, but it has happened, on the current board and on previous boards.
Mueller and Wacha also criticized the current BOE for “presenting a united front on all issues” in public. But Priscoe noted in her remarks on civility that the BOE members have disagreed on many issues when they meet in closed session. “What is presented at the meetings has been discussed as a whole prior,” she said. We are adults and a productive Board of Education. We work through situations that we may not be in agreement with but also do not carry over any negativity into our public meetings.”
The BOE seats will be voted on in the November 3 general election.