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Meet Your School Board Candidates at Montgomery High School on Tuesday, October 11

By Barbara A. Preston | October 5, 2022


Join the League of Women Voters, Central New Jersey Network Television, and The Montgomery News at a School Board Candidate Forum at Montgomery High School on Tuesday, October 11 at 7 pm.


Here is the link to the live stream event The forum will also be available on demand on the Montgomery News Facebook Page.


All 10 candidates were invited. Five candidates have responded that they plan to attend the forum. The five candidates are: Phyllis Bursh, Michelle Dowling, Douglas Herring, Craig Rothenberg, and Richard Specht. At the forum, the candidates will discuss their ideas for the Montgomery school district and answer questions from voters.

Information about the five candidates who have chosen not to attend the candidate's forum, or who have failed to respond to the invitation, is available on The Montgomery News Website. The five candidates are: Mohammed Fahd Ansari, Danish Mirza, Joanna Filak, Ania "Anna" Wolecka-Jernigan, and John A. Sangiovanni, III.


Should these candidates decide they do want to meet the voters in person at the forum, 10 seats will be set up on stage in the Montgomery Performing Arts Center at the high school. The candidates simply need to show up at 6:30 pm on Tuesday.


Two incumbents and eight new candidates are competing for three seats on the Montgomery Township Board of Education in the upcoming November 8 election. New candidates Mohammed Fahd Ansari of Belle Mead; Michelle Dowling of Skillman; Danish Mirza of Belle Mead; Joanna Filak of Skillman; Ania Wolecka-Jernigan of Belle Mead; Douglas Herring of Skillman; Craig Rothenberg of Belle Mead; and John A. Sangiovanni, III of Skillman, along with incumbents Phyllis Bursh of Belle Mead and Richard Specht of Belle Mead, are on the ballot.


Profiles for all candidates are available online.


Candidate Ania "Anna" Wolecka-Jernigan explained the reasoning why she and her running mate Joanna Filak will not attend the forum to meet voters — primarily, they do not trust the newspaper.


"Joanna and I have been working hard meeting with our community and sharing our views and aspirations for the future of our school district. We found that too often we enter into a debate about fundamental needs of our children, we are firm believers that school board positions are not about opposition but collaboration among members to do best for our schools and children.

As you know, we have been vocal participants at local BOE meetings for almost two years, we have worked on workshops with our community and we continue working on establishing better communication with our existing board members, the work we have been engaged in has been very rewarding and our community continues to show their desire to do the right thing for our kids.


Unfortunately our experience with The Montgomery News and some other local organizations has been concerning, filled with misrepresentation of our views, continued attacks on our character, but most importantly it has not helped our mission of transparency and partnership between schools and parents. Therefore, we are politely declining your invitation. Joanna and I will continue to engage with the community through other means and events where residents are able to share their concerns and understand how we can support them if elected."

The Montgomery News stands by its reporting, and dedicated four full pages to the candidates in the September issue of the newspaper. The Montgomery News also posted the candidates' unabridged profiles on TheMontyNews.com. The editor regrets that these candidates will not be able to speak live and in-person to the voters of Montgomery.


The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area and The Montgomery News have worked together on three previous candidate forums. They co-sponsored a School Board Candidate Forum in October 2020 and a Legislative District 16 Democratic Primary Forum in May 2021. Both events were on Zoom on account of the pandemic. In September 2021, Central New Jersey Network joined with the LWV and the paper to cosponsor an in-person LD 16 Assembly & Senate Forum at Raritan Valley Community College.

About the League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization working to protect and expand voting rights and ensure everyone is represented in our democracy. They empower voters and defend democracy through advocacy, education, and litigation, at the local, state, and national levels. Learn more at lwvprinceton.org. Their voter guides are available at www.vote411.org.


About Central New Jersey Network

Central New Jersey Network (CNJN), formally Princeton TV, provides original New Jersey content as well as local, national and international news coverage, CNJN delivers programming that speaks to the local community. CNJN also acts as a forum for citizens to produce and broadcast their own shows, films, videos commercials and more by providing the opportunity for use of camera equipment, TV studios and training. Learn more at cnjn.org.


About The Montgomery News

The Montgomery News is a monthly newspaper serving Belle Mead, Blawenburg, Griggstown, Rocky Hill, and Skillman. It mails 21,000 papers first-class using the U.S. Post Office to every home in Montgomery Township, Rocky Hill, and parts of Princeton, Hopewell, Hillsborough, and Franklin Township. Another 2,000 to 3,000 papers are delivered bulk to the Montgomery Municipal Complex, The Princeton Fitness and Wellness Center, and to various newspaper boxes through town. There is also a weekly online newsletter, that is distributed to subscribers via email. And the website is updated daily.


About the Montgomery Board of Ed

As described by the Montgomery board of education website, "the board’s responsibilities include: setting and evaluating policy; establishing goals; overseeing that the district schools are well run by the administrators they have hired; and adopting a fiscally sound operating budget for the school district. Board members act on the superintendent’s recommendations, meet with civic groups, and receive input from parents, students, and community members."


The board has a total of nine members who usually serve three-year terms, as elected by residents of Montgomery Township and Rocky Hill. Three seats usually come up for election each November.


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