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Everything You Need to Know About Fair Lawn's Board of Education Candidates

A compendium of information on the six candidates who are running for three three-year terms on the Fair Lawn Board of Education this November.

When Fair Lawn residents go to the polls on Nov. 6, they'll have six candidates —three incumbents, three challengers — to choose from for the Board of Education. Of those six, three will be elected to three-year terms.

This page is the clearing house where you can find relevant information about the candidates as well as their policy stances drawn from information gleaned in interviews, a League of Women Voters-developed survey and the candidates debate.

Note: LWV Survey responses were provided by the candidates

A transcript from the candidates debate is available, click here.

For the updated list of polling places in Fair Lawn, click here.

Eugene Banta 

Candidate Profile:

Elementary school district where he resides: Radburn

Number of children and ages: 3 (18,25,28)

Number of years in Fair Lawn: 31

Education: B.A., English, St. John's University; J.D., New York Law School

Occupation: Attorney

Leadership qualifications: Business owner, 4.5 years as Board of Education president, 2.5 years as Board of Education vice president, negotiated over a dozen contracts with various district unions

Q1 - If there were no state mandates or restrictions, what would your agenda be as a board member?

I would use the state Core Curriculum Standards as a base, but add other components such as art and music, which is what Fair Lawn currently has. I would make kindergarten mandatory for a whole day.

Q2 - Every time there is a change of election from spring to November, the result has been political partisanship. How will you ensure that the Board of Education remains nonpartisan?

I will not allow any political party at any level influence my decision making. I will be vigilant in making sure that all politicians of any stripe are aware that the Board of Education in Fair Lawn always has been and always will be apolitical.

I will take no donations from any political party or any current or possible vendor.

I will work with anyone, including politicians, for the betterment of our school system, as long as they understand that politics will never play a part in the running of the Fair Lawn schools.

Ron Barbarulo 

Candidate Profile: Barbarulo Believes Unique Background an Asset to Board

Elementary school district where he resides: Forrest

Number of children and ages: 3 (17,14, 10)

Number of years in Fair Lawn: 19

Education: High School Diploma (Paramus Catholic); Trade School Community College for inspector's license

Occupation: Licensed master plumber and plumbing inspector

Leadership qualifications: Straightforward, fighter, compassionate, understanding

Q1 - If there were no state mandates or restrictions, what would your agenda be as a board member?

Although this is not true, I would work to increase our curriculum with programs we lost. I would like to see more everyday programs back, as not all kids are college material. We need to cut any waste and make sure our funds go towards education, maintaining our facilities and advancement of all our extracurricular activities. We need to prepare our children for the future in all fields, such as technology and core standards.

Q2 - Every time there is a change of election from spring to November, the result has been political partisanship. How will you ensure that the Board of Education remains nonpartisan?

I will not allow any politicians to use education as their platform. I will speak against anyone who tries to mix politics with children. I believe as a board member, we must always do what is best for the children, regardless of what people's political beliefs are. One should never let their political thoughts help make decisions about children's education. If I thought that they would mix or cause issues, I would fight against it publicly. I am truly against politics playing a role in any decisions that affect children.

Josh Gillenson

Candidate Profile: Incumbent Gillenson Not Averse to New Ideas

Elementary school district where he resides: Lyncrest

Number of children and ages: 2 (25 and 29)

Number of years in Fair Lawn: 26

Education: M.A in Special Education; Master of Social Work

Occupation: Former special education teacher, social work administrator, proposal writer

Leadership qualifications: Board of Education member since April 2000; special education committee chair since 2003; extensive knowledge/experience with public/private funding sources, grant research tools, proposal writing process. Extensive understanding of special education laws.

Q1 - If there were no state mandates or restrictions, what would your agenda be as a board member?

The absence of mandates and restriction is, I believe, never to occur. By and large, however, I believe our district focus and mission reflect a commitment to thorough, quality education to maximize every student's potential, whatever their abilities/backgrounds. Our approach isn't motivated or shaped primarily by mandates.

I'd welcome the opportunity for district leadership to select the most appropriate methods (assessment) for evaluation student progress and, thus, the efficacy of our curriculum/instructional strategies.

As for fiscal matters, I'd welcome the chance to pursue a wider range of funding sources and reclaim greater autonomy with respect to budgets.

Q2 - Every time there is a change of election from spring to November, the result has been political partisanship. How will you ensure that the Board of Education remains nonpartisan?

Answering this question must begin with a testament to the exemplary way in which my Board colleagues have responded to this challenge. Throughout my tenure, we've always left politics "at the door." Political affiliation has never entered into our discussions and decision making. We know one another well enough to recognize that we hold varying political points of view. But they're not discussed and have no bearing on our collective efforts. So, in conclusion, I'll continue to embrace and adhere to that stance. I'll never solicit, nor accept, any support from any political party, and will never allow their opinions/positions to influence my decision-making. Moreover, I'd denounce any attempt by any political entity to influence Board autonomy.

Vladimir Itkin

Candidate Profile: 

Elementary school district where he resides: Milnes

Number of children and ages: 2 (6 and 7)

Number of years in Fair Lawn: 9

Education: M.S. in Mathematics and Engineering

Occupation: Actuary (Mathematician)

Leadership qualifications: I have nine years of corporate managerial experience. I am also a co-founder of a professional organization

Q1 - If there were no state mandates or restrictions, what would your agenda be as a board member?

We should not discard something just because it's a state mandate. Some mandates are actually good, while others are useless. I would carefully examine all mandates and discard those that are money wasters. This would allow us to forgo tax increases for a number of years. At the same time, we could invest in improving the curriculum and decrease the class size.

Q2 - Every time there is a change of election from spring to November, the result has been political partisanship. How will you ensure that the Board of Education remains nonpartisan?

I am not a member of any party. I truly believe that partisan politics has no place in schools. Excellent education should be everyone's goal, regardless of one's political affiliations. I suggest to all Board of Education candidates not to accept a party's endorsement unless the other party endorses the same candidate as well.

Jeffrey Klein

Candidate Profile: Klein Hopes to Bring a Spark to the Board of Education

Elementary school district where he resides: Warren Point

Number of children and ages: 1 (7)

Number of years in Fair Lawn: 27

Education: FLHS Class of '88; B.A. in Special Education; M.Ed. in Education Administration

Occupation: Teacher of Handicapped/English

Leadership qualifications: Masters +30 in Administration; High school varsity coach; Recording secretary of School Improvement Team; Navy boot camp petty officer and leader

Q1 - If there were no state mandates or restrictions, what would your agenda be as a board member?

If there were no state mandates tomorrow, my agenda would be unchanged. The job is to work for students and the community regardless of state regulations. Mandates reflect many necessary guidelines such as special education law and the notion that all students are entitled to a safe environment and thorough curriculum regardless of ability and interests.

My agenda would not sway from those intentions and will always include: a culture of learning and curiosity where students have the proficiencies to compete "on the world's stage," an educated and professional teaching staff who are dedicated to continuous learning, consistent conversation about improvement and the best ways to serve schools and the community, effective management and responsible fiscal awareness.

Q2 - Every time there is a change of election from spring to November, the result has been political partisanship. How will you ensure that the Board of Education remains nonpartisan?

Keeping citizens well-informed and ensuring an honest, transparent election will circumvent partisan politics. While the general philosophies of the "two parties" will differ in many aspects, those political facets are irrelevant to the needs of children and the wont to have a thriving school system represented by caring trustees. While we cannot deny any groups involvement in an election, it is my personal pledge to neither run nor endorse partisanship.

Mark Spindel

Candidate Profile: Spindel an Experienced Educator with Fresh Ideas for Fair Lawn

Elementary school district where he resides: Radburn

Number of children and ages: 2 (26 and 30)

Number of years in Fair Lawn: 33

Education: B.A.; M.A. Administration/Supervision at William Paterson University

Occupation: Retired prinicipal

Leadership qualifications: As principal, I was the instructional and managerial leader responsible for budgets, state mandated programs, educational policies, development/implementation of curriculum, etc. working with staff and community members

Q1 - If there were no state mandates or restrictions, what would your agenda be as a board member?

Each district with or without state mandates or restrictions has an obligation to provide for all of its students a "thorough and efficient" education. Therefore, the goals of the state and those of the local districts are the same: "accountability, focusing resources on instruction and spending taxpayers' monies in a fiscally prudent way." These are my goals as well.

One can dispute, however, the means by which the state attempts to assure compliance with its goals. The state's numerous procedures and regulations can at times be dysfunctional, onerous and costly. I agree that the district must be accountable, but the means by which we do so must be consonant with the distrct's day-to-day operations.

Q2 - Every time there is a change of election from spring to November, the result has been political partisanship. How will you ensure that the Board of Education remains nonpartisan?

In over 20 years of school administration, as both a prinicipal and assistant coordinator of basic skills, I made decisions based on their educational outcomes without consideration of possible political implications, either partisan or otherwise. As a Board member, I pledge to continue to act independently without being beholden to any partisan group. I also pledge to work with other members of the Board of Education and the district administration to develop policies that will help to ensure that decisions are educationally based and fiscally repsonsible without political partisanship.

Elections on the State Level:

  • Sandy Poses Unique Challenges to NJ Candidates

The National Election:

From our NJ Insiders Series:

  • Aug. 12: NJ Insiders Not Sure Ryan Better Pick Than Christie
  • Aug. 22: NJ Insiders: Booker Strongest Candidate Dems Can Field Against Christie
  • Oct 4: Who Won the Debate? NJ Insiders Pick Romney
  • Oct 17: Who Won the Debate? NJ Insiders Split Along Party Lines
  • Oct. 23: NJ Insiders Split Along Party Lines After Final Debate
  • Nov. 5: 

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abook November 06, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I dont care. WHERE IS THE POWER ALREADY??? They should cancel the damn elections and get power back. I hate this state. I hate Christie, WHere was he all these months? playing politics all over the country? WHere was his disaster recovery plans? what is this nonsense of blaming PSEG oh thanks they give a time table. SUNDAY NIGHT well where is my DAMM POWER>?>>Thanks CHristie, you failed. QUIT>>>>L

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