Charmian Neary is a parent in the Midland School District, serves on the school board finance and budget committee and organizes Friends of the Rye City School District every year, an ad hoc group of women who work to turn out the vote for the school budget.
In a guest column for MyRye.com, Neary wonders if we should vote for candidates that can't find time to vote themselves. What do you think? Leave a comment below.
I am a parent in the Midland School District. I serve on the school board Finance and Budget committee.
I volunteer to get the school budget passed each year as well. In compiling call lists for this year I focused on those residents of Rye who actually voted rather than on those who were simply registered. I further limited my efforts to school board election voters, parents first. What I found was both surprising and illuminating and I am compelled to share the information publicly.
Two of the four candidates who announced their candidacy after teachers’ union president Jaime Zung’s call for candidates, Susan Hendler and Chris Reppeto, have never voted in a school board election here in Rye. A third, Steven Tuch, voted last year for the first time, as he is a recent Rye arrival. The fourth, a retired teacher and member of the union, Gwendelyn Hughes, has voted consistently.
Both incumbents, Josh Nathan and Laura Slack, have voted every time, as have their spouses. The challenger who announced his intentions well prior to the teachers’ union call for candidates, Ray Schmitt, has voted every time. In addition, Schmitt’s wife has been very active in the schools as a volunteer and has voted consistently as well.
I think it is crucial that voters in Rye know before the election this Tuesday the fundamental fact of who has voted and who has not. It is one thing not to attend board meetings. Although I have attended regularly for the last three years, I can understand that there are many ways to serve the community in Rye, and school board meetings, like city council meetings, are not everyone’s cup of tea. They can be mind numbing, and I’m being kind here. But they are very important, especially if, like me, you have a child for whom school is a challenge. I make it my business to attend.
Please remember that this board was freely elected by the voters in Rye. All adult citizens have the right and obligation to vote. Shouldn’t actually voting be a minimal qualification for standing to serve as a trustee of the Rye City school district?
Our children deserve more consideration than is evidenced by those who have never voted. I cannot support anyone who does not even support our school budget with the fifteen or twenty minutes necessary to cast a ballot at the gym, yet expects me to believe they will find the time and intellectual energy to commit 15 to 20 hours a week to oversee our $68,000,000 budget for the next three years.