MILLSTONE – Four candidates are seeking three three-year terms on the Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education in the 2021 election.
No residents filed a nominating petition to run for two one-year terms and the winners of those terms may be decided through write-in votes.
The four candidates running for the three-year terms are Christine Reese, Ted Filis, Angela Munoz and Deborah Riley.
Board members Billy Hanson and John Saxton are not seeking re-election.
The 2021 school board election is being held with vote by mail ballots; with early in-person voting at 10 polling locations throughout Monmouth County on nine days later this month; and with in-person voting at polling locations in Millstone Township on Nov. 2.
Earlier this year, Filis was appointed to the board to fill a vacant seat. A resident of Millstone for four years, he is an energy industry professional and currently working in project management for Tesla.
“I believe public education is a pillar of a thriving society,” Filis said. “During an unprecedented pandemic, I have worked with the board, our administrators, teachers and our community to give Millstone children the best educational experience possible.
“I am proud of that work, however, the work remains unfinished. In these tumultuous times, our district is still in need of stable, common sense leadership. A school board member is a volunteer position one takes on because of an overarching commitment to the community.
“I hope to continue on as a voice in that room, collaborating with others, making tough decisions and staying focused on the bigger picture for our children and our community. As we work through changing state mandates and guidelines, I remain focused on the safety of our students and families and on the continuity of education.
“Keeping our children in classrooms with their classmates and friends, in a top-quality educational environment, remains my top priority.
“As a management employee at Fortune 500 companies for well over a decade, I am tasked every day with making decisions that not only affect our business interests, but also the public good.
“Through this work experience, I have developed excellent leadership, management and communication skills. While I have managed projects of various sizes, as well as multiple work groups and departments, I would still regularly contact one customer to make sure their service was restored after an outage.
“I have worked with and managed folks in the field doing difficult work. I have been on the front lines of many emergencies and have exhibited the ability to make sound decisions under difficult circumstances. I look forward to continuing to bring this experience and concern for the greater good to the board,” Filis said.
If elected, Filis said areas of focus for him will be continuing in-person instruction for students; ensuring teachers and staff have access to the tools, technology and training to most effectively educate students; and fiscal responsibility and transparency.
Munoz was appointed to the board in December 2020 to fill a vacant seat. A resident of Millstone for seven years, she has been a regulatory affairs professional in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 15 years.
“I believe a high quality education supported by a strong school district is at the center of success for its community,” Munoz said. “The school district’s purpose is to prepare its children for success in life and to bring value to whichever community they choose to reside in as adults.
“By serving on this school board, it is my intention and personal goal to help advance the district in an ever-changing environment and to work collaboratively with the other board members, administrators and teachers in order to fulfill this purpose for the well-being of our children and our community.
“I believe I have begun to understand how the world of education is ever-evolving and I am hopeful I can continue to gain experience and a deeper knowledge of this in order to continue to bring the best education and experience possible to all of those who work within and attend the schools within our district.
“I work collaboratively as part of a cross-functional team of members from various disciplines throughout the company and often tasked with finding alternative ways to help meet the business objectives set out by my marketing colleagues, while still maintaining and upholding the regulations set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“I am also well-versed in performing risk benefit analysis, as risk decisions must be made because the FDA regulations and guidance are often not black and white and have room for interpretation.
“I believe these collaborative and analytical skills I use in my daily work life translate into being a strong candidate for the board. I am able to listen to all sides and perspectives and work toward providing solutions that will provide the greatest benefit or help the district meet its particular goals and objectives,” Munoz said.
If elected, Munoz said areas of focus for her will be bringing a solutions-oriented perspective to any challenges in a way that meets the needs of the staff, students and their families; maintaining fiscal responsibility that allows the district to work within its budget; and ensuring inclusion for all members of the community.
Reese, who is serving as the board’s vice president this year, joined the board in 2019. A resident of Millstone for 13 years, she has been a guidance counselor in the New York City Department of Education for 27 years.
“I am seeking re-election because I believe education is the foundation of our community,” Reese said. “I feel it is essential to bring people together to develop solutions that will strengthen our schools and improve opportunities for all of the children.
“Our children are the key to the community’s growth and their growth is the responsibility of the community. I am fully committed to working collaboratively and creating partnerships to continue to advance our community as we move deeper into the 21st century.
“I believe my current term as a board member has provided me with a deep understanding of the challenges facing our children and has given me the experience necessary to move forward to best serve our students, faculty and community as a whole.
“As a guidance counselor for the last 27 years, I have worked collaboratively with students, parents, administrators and other educators. It has been my job to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together, to find solutions.
“I can bring a dual lens to this position. I have the trained professional eye to troubleshoot areas of need, but I also have the compassionate lens of a parent. I know I can continue to make a difference by bringing my knowledge, experiences and skill set to the school board,” Reese said.
If re-elected, Reese said areas of focus for her will be maintaining collaboration between the board, staff, students and parents; remaining in the framework and budgetary constraints on funding; and using art education to allow students to express themselves creatively while building their confidence, having them collaborate with peers and strengthening their coordination and focus.
Riley, who has lived in Millstone for three years, is a retired detective with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. She is a registered nurse and holds a master’s degree in forensic nursing.
“I am seeking a seat on the board because I believe all parents have a voice and need to be heard in regard to what is best for their children,” Riley said. “In addition, I will always be an advocate for parental choice in regard to state mandates.
“Also, I strongly believe parents need to be involved and have a say in the type of curriculum that is introduced into the system. Children need to be in a setting that is comfortable as well as safe for them.
“I also understand that other residents in town who no longer have children in the system are concerned where their tax dollars are going. Fiscal responsibility and accountability are very important to me.
“My professional background consists of many years in community service. I am a people person and love to be involved in the community. As a nurse for over 25 years and a retired law enforcement officer, I have dealt with some pretty tough professional situations over the years and I am skilled in interpersonal conflict and resolution.
“I am well educated and know how to problem solve and work well with the public. I am not only trained in the medical field, but in public safety as well. That is a rare combination, which would only benefit the children in Millstone. Plus, I love kids and enjoy coaching my daughter’s lacrosse team,” Riley said.
If elected, Riley said areas of focus for her will be state mandates pertaining to masking and vaccines; vetting the curriculum for next year and addressing parental concerns; and open communication and bridging the gap between the board and the community.