School Board candidates weigh in

There are two open seats for Hopewell Township representatives to the Hopewell Valley Regional School Board of Education. Michael Wilson is the only person who submitted a petition to run for either seat and his name is on the ballot. We at MercerMe heard that there were some other people in the Valley who would like to be written in as candidates. We put out a general call for anyone who wished to submit a statement to so by today; the only person who responded was Lydia Liu. Both Wilson’s and Liu’s statements follow. (edited 10/16 to add – John Slotman also is running as a write in candidate. His statement also is below)

Michael Wilson

My name is Michael Wilson. I have worked and been involved in education since the 1970’s as a teacher, educational administrator, school board member and university professor.  My BA is from the University of California at Santa Cruz in anthropology, my MA is from Los Angeles State University in learning handicaps and my PhD is in educational psychology from the University of Southern California.  

I decided to run for school board after having read much of the research and many books about the weakening condition of our democracy. I know the New Jersey Common Core Standards in social studies, which forms an important part of HVRSD’s social studies program, addresses aspects of democracy such as civic structures, knowledge, activities, skills and underlying themes. However, the research I have read shows me that citizens’ personal investment in, belief in and ownership of democracy as well as their use of community engagement are crucial for effective personal participation in democracy and missing from the Standards. I recently conducted an informal survey asking children to explain the word liberty in the Pledge of Allegiance, their personal connections to democracy, and ways to be powerful in using democracy. The results suggested to me that our children are missing important connections with democracy. So, I would like to see if their understanding of, involvement in, and use of democracy can be strengthened.

Lydia Liu

Hi everyone! I’m Ou Liu and go by Lydia. I’m running for the HVRSD Board of Education as a write-in candidate. I’ve been a Pennington resident for 14 years with my husband Yi Zheng. Both our kids, Jayden, 11, and Michael, 8, attend Hopewell valley schools. I work for a nonprofit education organization as an executive. I’m interested in this position because of the opportunity to work with the fabulous teachers, students, and parents in our district to seek positive changes and make a great district even better. As our student population gets more diverse, I also hope to bring voices of all backgrounds to our Board of Education. My mission is to promote high quality education for all learners in our district by respecting students’ diverse backgrounds, promoting skills important to students’ academic and future workforce success, and building strong connections with our parents, educators, and other community members. Edited at the candidate’s request 10/20 – please use Ou Liu, rather than Lydia, to write her in on your ballot.

John Slotman (updated 10/16 – this email went to junk in our email and we are very appreciative to Mr. Slotman for reaching out to ask us to look for it)

A recent local news article noted that there was but a single declared candidate for Hopewell Township’s two Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education seats that will be on the November 8 ballot. After my initial feeling of surprise that a write-in candidate would be elected to serve our community as a member of the HVRSD Board of Education, I soon heard from many friends and neighbors with the same message: you should run to serve our community in this important capacity.   

So why would someone like me, someone who has never run – or even considered running – for any elected office, ask for your consideration as a write-in candidate on November 8?   

I can think of a few reasons for your consideration: I’ve been a proud resident of Hopewell Township for nearly a decade now and have been involved in activities throughout the community. I’ve served and volunteered with our PTO as a room parent and on other activities and events as well as a member of a superintendent workgroup that worked to develop a district “Communication Action Plan.”  I’ve also been involved in youth sports in the area where you’ve probably seen me on a field or court somewhere, coaching youth soccer, basketball, or baseball.  Or maybe at St. James in Pennington where we have been parishioners since we moved to Hopewell in 2013.   

None of these activities are as important as what makes me most qualified to serve as a member of the Board of Education:  I’m a dad.  My wife, Jessica, and I are parents to two amazing children who are fourth and fifth graders at Hopewell Elementary School. As parents of children who are currently in the school district, we have a real-time perspective on the current HVRSD student and parent experience.  And as a family with two full-time working parents, we understand the impact district decisions, and how they are communicated, can have on Hopewell’s working families. This background will help inform my perspective if chosen to serve on the Board of Education.   

Service is such a pivotal part of our community. And no service can be more important than helping shape the future of education in the Hopewell Valley. I humbly thank you for considering writing-in “John Slotman” for the Hopewell Valley Board of Education on November 8.   

Thank you for your consideration.   

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