The citizens of Montclair chose an elected school board decisively and consistently on Election Day — every district in town voted yes by landslide margins. The lesson here is the same one that Rodney Frelinghuysen learned some years ago in the 11th Congressional District, and politicians everywhere should heed:

Listen to your constituents.

The incumbent powers in Montclair didn't listen to their constituents this year, and it showed. We did not appreciate the effort to scare us with fear-mongering about supposed risks to the magnet system. We did not appreciate being told to accept the status quo because it worked in the past, or worse, that our opinion only mattered in proportion to how long we have lived in town. We did not appreciate watching the leaders of the Board of School Estimate fail our children by pointing fingers instead of solving problems, while those who could have made a difference seemed to be using us as nothing more than a stepping stone to other offices.

The citizens of Montclair deserve elected representatives who are responsive, transparent and accountable. We deserve representatives who demonstrate a sense of urgency about finding solutions that improve education for our children and overall life in Montclair. We deserve representatives who will explain their views in public, and give us a chance to give meaningful feedback that is handled respectfully and taken into account in subsequent decision-making. We deserve representatives who care enough about the people of Montclair to work together and find constructive compromises that move us forward, not hold us back.

The citizens of Montclair have spoken clearly. As our focus turns to school board elections and the next race for council and mayor, I encourage new candidates and any incumbents who wish to stay in office to think about what happened on Election Day, and resolve to get out into all parts of the Montclair community (not just the halls of power) and listen to your constituents.

If you won’t listen, don’t be surprised when your constituents vote for someone else who will.

Jonathan Bellack


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