Five candidates will vie for the three, three-year seats available on the North Brunswick Board of Education in November


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NORTH BRUNSWICK – The November ballot will see five candidates, including three incumbents. They are running for the three, three-year seats available on the North Brunswick Board of Education.

Incumbents Barry Duran Harris, who is serving as board president, Coleen M. Keefe, and N. Janelle Zulick will face newcomers Zaire S. Ali and Jason Carter.

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Harris is seeking his third term and Zulick, who was a write-in candidate during the 2021 election, is seeking another term.

Ali is running on the Health and Education ticket.

The North and South Brunswick Sentinel sent out an election questionnaire for candidates to fill out. Below are the candidates who responded in alphabetical order.

Ali, who is in his early 30s, has lived in North Brunswick for four years.

Education: Associate’s degree in criminal justice and bachelor’s degree in health education from Lock Haven University. Master’s degree in counseling and psychology from Rutgers Graduate School of Education and master’s degree in public health from the Rutgers School of Public Health.

Profession: Public health researcher, nonprofit executive and professional consultant.

In the community: I have done multiple research and quality assurance projects within Middlesex County school districts, and I am an active, community activist and advocate.

Why are you running for a seat for BOE? Because I want to help transform the way schools think about education and help educating the community regarding the lack of equity within certain school policies and propose universal solutions to make our schools a better place for all students, teachers, and staff.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected? I would love to bring more attention to the intersection of health and education, and how schools are a prime place to improve health outcomes and educational outcomes for all their students regardless of, race, religion, ethnicity, and level of income.

Carter, 38 is a lifelong resident of North Brunswick. He attended the public schools from K-12. He is married with two children ages 5 and 2.

Education: Master’s degree in business administration from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.

Profession: Currently, executive director of business development at the College Board. Previously, worked at Educational Testing Service for 11 years prior to joining the College Board.

In the community: North Brunswick T-Ball coach; board member for CASA of New Jersey and the Princeton YMCA; member of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens; former substitute teacher in North Brunswick; former Big Brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.

Why are you running for a seat for BOE? I’m running for the North Brunswick school board as a lifelong resident of North Brunswick, a product of the school system, a father of two young girls and someone who truly believes in participating in the systems that are important to you. Education has been a cornerstone of my family since I was a child. I come from a family of educators, my grandmother was a first grade teacher, my mom was a writer, and my wife is a teacher. I firmly believe in this community, the families and children who live here and I want to give back to the town that has supported me in reaching many of my personal goals.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected? I want educators, parents, and most importantly students to know that the public schools in this community can be a great springboard for success if students take advantage of the educational opportunities here. That means not only excelling in the classroom, but also taking advantage of the extraordinary extracurricular and community activities offered. I want students at all levels to truly maximize their possibilities and I believe it’s the board’s obligation to maximize our resources.

Harris has lived in North Brunswick for 16 years. He is married with two daughters. His 19-year-old daughter attended North Brunswick Township Schools and his 14-year-old daughter is a freshman at North Brunswick Township High School.

Education: Middlesex College in telecommunications, and networking technology.

Profession: Vice president at Merrill Lynch (Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions – Financial Services).

In the community: In addition to the BOE, I have volunteered as a softball coach for NBBSA (North Brunswick Baseball and Softball Association) for the past three years, participated in the North Brunswick Township Steering Committee, and the North Brunswick Democratic Committee.

Why are you running for a seat for BOE? I am running for a seat on the BOE to continue the great work we’ve accomplished in the district. As someone who personally moved their family to North Brunswick for the community and schools, I want to ensure other families find our district appealing, and those that are already here want to stay. This is a very diverse community, and it’s important to me that the leadership accurately reflects our population and needs. I take great pride in progress made and strive to reach new heights. Our community deserves it.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected? If elected, one continued area of focus would be on educational excellence. As a stated goal from our Steering Committee, our mission is to educate, inspire, and empower our students to meet challenges and achieve success.

Zulick, 53, has lived in North Brunswick for 25 years. She is married with five children, ages 27, 22, 19, 18 and 13. She has one grandchild.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Weber State University.

Profession: Teacher

In the community: Currently, I am a seminary teacher, served on the board for North Brunswick Soccer for five years and the BOE for one year. I have been a youth leader for over 20 years. I have volunteered as a youth basketball coach for DPRCS (The Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services), team manager for two NBSC (North Brunswick Soccer) teams, and a Girls Scout and Cub Scout leader.

Why are you running for a seat for BOE? I am running for BOE because I have an invested interest in how our schools are managed. All five of my children are or have been a part of North Brunswick Township Schools. I feel with my knowledge and background as a teacher and a parent, I can provide a balanced perspective to the district.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected? An area of focus for me is a curriculum with high standards and goals. I am excited to see the direction our district is taking towards increasing our children’s quality of education.

Candidate Coleen M. Keefe did not return a questionnaire before press time.

Polls open from 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 8.

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