As we prepare to launch the official petition required to trigger a referendum on converting Montclair from an appointed to elected Board of Education we have an immediate need to connect with voters and create a list of registered voters in Montclair who will sign the petition and support the campaign. Creating a “voter file” prior to the petition being activated is critical, so we can easily and quickly contact supporters when the petition is live, and then notify those who have had their signatures or other data challenged by the Township clerk.
How can you help?
First, reach out to your network of family and friends in Montclair. Write an email, text or PM. Make a call. Inform people about the campaign, and ask them if they would support and sign the petition when it comes out, likely in mid-February. Explain that our first hurdle is getting enough signatures on the petition that the town will not attempt to quash it by (for example) singling out signatures that don’t perfectly match what is on file. Ask the campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org how to make sure your contacts are in the master voter file, or to be granted access to the file for leads on friends and acquaintances you may be forgetting.
Making the case
Below is some suggested messaging that you can use when either emailing or calling friends/family members in town. Note that anyone can sign the petition as long as they are 18 or older and are registered to vote in Montclair.
- Montclair is now one of only a handful of municipalities in New Jersey where mayors rather than voters decide who sits on the BOE, and given current trends could soon be the last where residents are denied this most basic voting right.
- The appointed BOE system has failed to do the things it is supposed to do better than an elected BOE, including fostering a board that is diverse and rich in relevant skills, and keeping politics and discord out of local education policy. Meanwhile, Montclair is falling behind towns with elected boards in many measures of educational success, including the achievement gap.
- An elected BOE is likely to be more accountable and transparent, and to focus on the needs of students and families rather than politicians and special interests.