Montclair will hold elections in November for three open Board of Education seats. Nine residents filed petitions to meet the July 31 deadline to run as candidates. Three of the nine are incumbent members: Phaedra Dunn, Melanie Dysher and Allison Silverstein. New candidates are Stuart Ball, Alex Binkley, Jessica Glass, Theodore Graham, Will Novak and Kimberly Robinson Santos.
To help inform you before Election Day, Montclair Local launched a series of candidate profiles. Get to know the candidates and the plans they have for the future of education in Montclair. Our series continues with Stuart Ball.
Why are you running for the Board of Education?
I have come to believe that the principle of “free, quality, public education for all” is at the core of the health and viability of our society. It makes possible economic success, cultural richness, intellectual strength, democratic systems, and social progress. That core principle is under attack on various fronts nationwide and must be steadfastly defended. My wife, Sara Mastellone, is an effective, experienced teacher and educator and she continues to inspire me and my commitment to educational excellence. I also have experience in the classroom as an adjunct history professor at Essex County Community College where I have seen firsthand the vital impact education can have.
What are some of the issues that are personal to you that you hope to address?
I am particularly focused on: addressing the continuing racial educational access gap; engaging in the continuing efforts to find the financial support needed for our schools; providing wider access to top level classes and providing the supports necessary to insure the success of all students in those classes; and enhancing the support, pay and respect due to our dedicated teachers.
What can you bring to the Board that you feel is currently missing?
Fifty years ago, I founded a small labor and litigation law firm that has provided, and continues to provide, a rich and rewarding experience as a labor lawyer, litigator, and small business operator. I am a licensed youth and high school soccer coach with 30 years of experience, including several at Montclair High School. I am a board member for a not-for-profit resort and conference center in New Hampshire. I have 10 years experience as an adjunct professor teaching U.S. history at Essex County Community College.
What connections, if any, do you have to the Montclair school system?
We moved to Montclair from East Orange in 1984 specifically so that our children (Kristina Mastellone, 1980 and Alex Ball, 1985) could grow up in a high quality, truly diverse public education system. Both children thrived educationally, athletically, and socially in the Montclair Public Schools and graduated from Montclair High School. We actively supported initiatives put in place during Kristina’s and Alex’ years at MHS including the World Literature program pioneered by Dr. Bernadette Annand and the social justice program pioneered by current MHS principal Jeff Freeman. I was a coach for the boys soccer program at MHS for several years and continue as a volunteer scout and consultant.
What else would you like voters to know about you or your campaign?
I have semi-retired at my law practice, so I do have the time and energy to devote to the BOE. I am fortunate to have a rich array of friends and colleagues with wide ranging experience that I can call on for thoughts and insights.