Monroe-Woodbury CSD: Election & Perspectives
May 19th will be the annual election for 3 members to the Monroe-Woodbury CSD, this year seeing 4 candidates vying for the positions being vacated by outgoing members Eleni Carter, John Otero, and Natalie Brooks.
One candidate, as of this publishing, has effectively dropped out of the race although her name will still appear on the ballot. The article won’t discuss her candidacy, but will outline the remaining four (4) candidates:
- Anthony Anderson
- Chris DiLorenzo
- Michael Salatto
- Andrea Trust
Since there are 3 seats and 4 candidates, and presuming that the other candidate on the ballot who has not campaigned will not be victorious, only one person in the group will not be elected to a seat on the Monroe-Woodbury CSD Board of Education.
Three of the candidates are endorsed by United Monroe (Anderson, DiLorenzo, Salatto), with the fourth either “declining to be vetted” or “unavailable”, depending on which version you prefer. United Monroe endorsed the slate of Anderson, DiLorenzo and Salatto for the three available seats.
A variety of private parties have issued statements in support of Andrea Trust’s candidacy, perhaps the most vocal of which is from Theresa Budich who was a former BOE member. Trust has cited her experience in several grass-roots efforts, including attendance at the Monroe-Woodbury CSD’s Annexation Committee, as well as positions on Valley View and other topical issues. All of the candidates have taken positions against the proposed annexation of 507 acres of Monroe land into the Village of Kiryas Joel, a decision that would have serious consequences on the future of the Monroe-Woodbury CSD.
On topics related to fiscal responsibility, all appear to have taken some stance in ensuring that the district remains fiscally solvent and adopts a budget that effectively meets the state imposed tax-cap. That decision will ensure that homeowners within the district will continue to be eligible for the tax rebates available to them that help defray the expense burden of school taxes. The United Monroe slate of candidates has supported the proposed budget, while Trust has made clear her opposition to the budget and support for an austerity budget to be implemented. However, this is where the details become somewhat murky as Trust stated that she had not had time to review the entire budget in detail, stating that her opposition is predicated on keeping taxes low for those on fixed incomes not being priced-out of remaining in the community.
This publication finds the position somewhat confusing, since that opposition appears both ill-informed and ill-intended. While no one wants to support a tax increase, service cuts that impact the quality of education echo a theme that has also been on display in the East Ramapo CSD, which has been controlled by a block vote of elected officials who largely send their children to private Yeshivas. We would have hoped Ms. Trust would have been better prepared as a candidate to understand the impact of the budget in full including its components, before a decision to veto.
Candidate Public Q&A Forum
On May 12th, one week prior to the election, the candidates were invited to attend a Q&A sponsored by the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce. One more than one occasion, Ms. Trust may have intended to make very valid points. The way in which she phrased her statements as more a cause for concern. While this publication swears no allegiance to political correctness, it does present concerns that her comments were both exceptionally candid and made specific reference to various ethnic groups, in at least one case without necessary context.
- On the subject of outsourcing transportation, all four candidates made it clear that they were against this option. However, Ms. Trust explained her experience in a different school district with non-native English speakers acting as drivers in a way that could have been poorly perceived.
- On the subject of the quality of education and extracurriculars, Ms. Trust used that opportunity to outline her working experience with Chinese and Indians in the workplace in a way that appeared very disconnected from the question.
Here is this publication’s view on both issues, and the full forum is posted below as a YouTube video for review. Sometimes, less is more:
- The outsourced busing issue. We didn’t feel it was necessary to bring up that experience. While germane to the topic, it had more potential to be inflammatory to one ethnicity that comprises a considerable portion of the community.
- The workplace comment. We understand the nature of workforce globalization, and that we exist in a global labor market. A job in the US can potentially be done at a lower cost in a different location. If that was Ms. Trust’s goal with her response — preparing our kids to get a ‘world-class’ education and compete globally — she expressed that very poorly. And to many, it probably seemed an irrational response or a biased view.
Neither of those are what the Monroe-Woodbury CSD needs. As a community, we have enough to handle in our views being criticized as ‘anti-Semitic’ even when they are not. We would be concerned of this as a representative voice.
While most publications might be inclined to offer an endorsement, we would rather not do so. Rather, we would prefer to express reasonable concern over the selection of a candidate whose words and views are more prone to alienate than unite the community. Despite the glowing reviews of the candidates by each source, we recognize that at least two candidates will represent the endorsements of United Monroe no matter which way the electorate turns or decides to split votes.
Our concerns over Ms. Trust outweigh any value we could provide in an endorsement. While we applaud her spirit of volunteerism and her work to support and fight for causes in which she clearly cares deeply, we remain unconvinced that her leadership on the Monroe-Woodbury CSD Board of Education would be positive for the district.
Further, her strongest supporting voice has been Theresa Budich, who has used a number of editorial statements in local media and on her “MW It’s Academic” Facebook Page to lobby for the interests of her candidate. Ms. Budich’s experience on the BOE occurred at a time when the spending habits of the district were rather freewheeling. Whether that is a repudiation of Ms. Budich’s own service on the BOE, or an endorsement of stricter financial controls remains unclear. So while it’s said you’re known by the company you keep, we have deep concerns on Budich’s record and Trust’s more recent position statements that aren’t necessarily completely informed.
While we heartily applaud Ms. Trust’s service to the community, her concerns over annexation, and our mutual concerns over responsible growth and responsible government, and do not doubt that she may lend valuable perspective, this website believes that her influence may prove more divisive than unifying.
The views expressed are solely those of this website. Responsible comments are welcomed.