Thursday, October 29, 2020

Many have asked me who I am endorsing for this year’s Teaneck Board of Education elections.

I have approached the six candidates with a list of questions about what is going on in the Teaneck BOE. Sadly, two candidates (Clara Mitchell Williams and Yusra Subhani) did not reply to my various forms of outreach. As such, I feel they would not represent all of Teaneck but just a select subset of Teaneck. I feel that as a representative of the BOE, the candidates must represent the interests of all the Teaneck residents and students. Clara has been on the board for nine years and I have not seen any increase in productivity and academics. However, we did expand the pre-K program and spent a lot of capital on a new administration building while expenditures have increased dramatically. Yusra Subhani is running with Clara, and as a recent Teaneck High School graduate does not have any
real-world experience. She may one day be a good candidate, but not today.


The remaining four candidates are all qualified to be on the Teaneck BOE based on their experience. I sat down to have long talks with each one of them.

Damen Cooper is a very qualified candidate, very passionate, personable and capable. He would add a lot of insight and value with the special-needs population and as Deputy Mayor Eli Katz says, he’s a “darn nice guy.” However, in 2018 his brother Gregory was hired by Teaneck and in 2019 his wife was also hired by Teaneck. This would recuse Cooper from many BOE decisions and votes on budget and staffing. Both of these hires were under Superintendent Christopher Irving, and I would want a BOE member to be unbiased and not indebted. I sincerely hope Damen Cooper will run again, if and when circumstances change.

That being said, I am endorsing the following candidates: Danielle Gee, Kate Zatz and Harold Clark.

Danielle Gee is the mother of three children, two in the Teaneck public school system. She has degrees in business and has a clear vision of her goals and getting kids in schools. She has a Harvard MBA, works for a nonprofit cancer organization, and can help in many areas such as finding grants and negotiating contracts. Gee has been a PTO president and has a vested interest in the schools and getting the children back into the classroom.

Kate Houghton Zatz is an assistant dean at Fairleigh Dickinson and has managed a public institution. She is aware of how to manage a large university, including all the pitfalls of remote learning, and can manage budgets among other managerial and human-resources skills.

Harold Clark is a former police officer and Teaneck football coach who understands kids. He can help with fostering understanding among many sectors of the diverse Teaneck community. He believes that not every child is meant for college and as such, we have to find out how children learn and give them the opportunities in other areas.

But don’t ask me—see what they say on the issues. Detailed questions on roles, classes, special education, busing and other important issues can be found on the Facebook group “Teaneck Newsroom” once you join.

Stephen Gruber
Moderator, Teaneck Newsroom