Candidates run uncontested in North Brunswick Board of Education election


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The Board of Education election in North Brunswick is uncontested; three candidates are running for three three-year terms on the school board.

Steven Wen is running under the Listening Learning Changing campaign; Paragi Patel is running under Putting Kids First; and incumbent David Brockman is also on the ballot.

Patel was up for election since she was brought onto the board in the spring to fill the open seat that was vacated by Traci Rubin’s resignation. That slot has to run for a one-year term and then would be up again next year for a three-year term.
Patel, instead of opting to run for the one-year term, filed to run for one of the available three-year terms.
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No petition has been filed for the one-year term.

Gloria Gonzalez and Tony Brooks will not seek re-election.
Paragi N. Patel has two children in the North Brunswick School District. She holds a doctorate in pharmacy. She has volunteered for Ayati, Unity SME and manages the North Brunswick Baseball and Softball Association’s softball snack shack.
“As a parent, I feel it is important to be involved in their education. My son currently attends North Brunswick Township High School and my daughter attends North Brunswick Township Middle School. Therefore, I have a vested interest in the North Brunswick education system.
“I have always been a strong proponent of quality education and extracurricular activities. As a member of the North Brunswick school board, I feel I can bring forth my experiences, a fresh perspective and assist the district to ensure our children receive the highest education. I have a strong passion to work with the other leaders in the North Brunswick BOE,” she said.
Patel has been a class mom at Parsons Elementary School, and a team parent for North Brunswick Recreation Soccer and North Brunswick Travel Softball.

“I have shown a consistent record of exceptional organization, strong team leadership and successful project management. My goal is to ensure our students and staff have all the tools and resources they need to succeed.

“As a member of the board I hope to provide our children the best education so they can become honorable, outstanding citizens from North Brunswick Township,” she said.

If elected to the board, Patel said she will focus on increased communication, ensuring students have the resources they need to succeed once they leave North Brunswick and being an advocate for the future.

Steven Wen has lived in North Brunswick since 2011. His children are in ninth grade at North Brunswick Township High School, sixth grade at Linwood School, and third grade at Judd Elementary School.

He is an application development manager at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Office of Information Technology.

For about five years, Wen participated in and also led the Parsons Community Outreach Program’s Homework Helpers program at Parsons Elementary School. This was a volunteer-led after-school program held at the school to have volunteers help students with their homework.

Through a local church, he volunteered at various Linwood School cleanup initiatives, teacher breakfasts and other service opportunities throughout the community.

He has volunteered as a coach for North Brunswick Recreation soccer and basketball over the past nine years.

Wen has not held public office.

“I have always felt community service is an important part of a person’s growth – whether it’s serving food at a local food bank, assisting a neighbor or volunteering to clean up after a natural disaster – service opportunities help us to look beyond our own needs, and to better understand what it means to live in a community.

“I feel that running for the school board will give me the opportunity to listen to others in the community, learn about the education policy and administration, and be part of the process to continue to make changes to improve education here in North Brunswick,” he said.

If elected to the board, Wen said one issue important to him is the topic of racism.

“As an Asian American Pacific Islander growing up in New Jersey, I have experienced firsthand both overt and covert racism. And sadly, those experiences also extended to my boys as well. With the start of COVID-19, there was definitely an uptick in the taunts my kids experienced at school or on the bus.

“I would love to see our schools be a model of how to teach our kids about diversity in a holistic way. From the way we view history, to the way we see people who look different from us, and how we perceive cultures and practices that differ from our own,” he said.

Another area that is important to him relates to special needs programs.

“As a parent of a special needs child, I understand the struggles and stresses families go through as their child enters school and goes through evaluation after evaluation in order to receive the services and accommodations they need.

“The staff that we have worked with has been phenomenal and worked hard to help our child move forward. I would like to see our teachers and staff be supported and have the resources to care for and educate these children,” he said.

Brockman could not be reached by press time.

Election Day is Nov. 2.

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