For the first time in our 37 years in Montclair, we will be sitting out this election.

Given our ongoing commitment to community service, Shirley as a Board of Education member and David as a founder of the Montclair Community Pre-K, this is not a decision we take lightly. We tried to learn about the candidates. We watched the League of Women Voters of the Montclair Area debate (was that a debate?) and tried to differentiate the candidates. We couldn’t find substantive differences among the candidates — everyone wanted to do what was best for the children and the district in a fiscally responsible way. So how does one decide?

Sometimes a popular vote is not the most rational way to select candidates for a board that oversees the essential work of educating our children. To choose intelligently, one would need in-depth interviews that truly explore what each individual brings to the position — not who projects best on a small screen or writes the best slogans.

We understand wanting to have one’s voice heard in the democratic process. That’s what democracy is. But asking voters to choose two people among a field of nine does not lead to an informed vote. Unless one personally knows a candidate there is no way to differentiate between them and cast an informed ballot.

We look forward to a time when candidates for the BOE must commit more time to learning about the role by sitting on board committees and by becoming very active and visible members of the education community. And then, with a smaller field that has actual board related experience and is vetted by a transparent process, the public will be able to make educated choices.

David and Shirley Grill


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