CRONM recognizes that running for a Board of Trustee position is an arduous, thankless, stressful and time-consuming task. It could not have been easy to get on that stage at Meet the Candidate Night (MCN) and answer all those questions. CRONM wants to applaud Steve Enella, Robert Crowley, Jennifer Hyland, Gerry Acuna and Megan Ryan Smith, for sharing their platform and positions. You all did a tremendous job!
For the upcoming election, there are 5 candidates competing for 3 seats. The election is “at-large” which means that the candidates receiving the three highest votes will win the seats. Every vote counts and matters.
In determining who to endorse, the choice should not focus on whether the individual is nice, a soccer/little league/baseball coach, has cute photos of his or her kids on facebook, or is well liked and popular in the community. The focus should be on which individuals will advocate, represent, and safeguard the interests of the North Merrick taxpayer and our children? Which individuals will ensure that the $33 million dollars in taxes collected from our residents are spent responsibly, so that our taxes are used on much needed school programs instead of non-essential administrative costs? Which individuals will work hard on ensuring that our tax cap is not pierced?
6 Years of BOE Experience, Fiscal Watchdog, Local Small Business Owner, Independent
Steve is a lifelong North Merrick Resident, a product of the North Merrick school district and served on the North Merrick Board of Education from 2012-2018 and the High School Board from 2017-2018. His ran for re-election last year and lost his seat by 12 votes!! He is running on an independent ticket and only owes allegiance to the Residents of North Merrick.
Steve went to Camp Avenue School, Brookside Junior High School and Calhoun High School. Steve has two daughters who went to Camp Avenue, MAMS and one is currently at Calhoun with the other attending the culinary program at Kennedy High School. He enrolled in the Marines after high school and proudly served for 5 years. He owns a successful Home Inspection business in North Merrick and performed the inspections on many of the homes in the neighborhood.
Steve is not a professional politician. He is straightforward with his position and does not mince words. You always know where you stand with Steve. His past actions and decisions as a Board Trustee showed his number one goal is to create a strong Board of Education for our children, follow appropriate protocols, protect our taxes, and represent the North Merrick taxpayers. He understands the meaning of transparency and the definition of Executive Session Steve knows how a successful business should be run and has experience making tough fiscal decisions. If elected, he will approach running and managing our $33 million budget as a business, not a piggy bank filled with monopoly money. If elected, he will work on reducing our $4 million administrative behemoth and increase our children's programs, materials in their classrooms, and resources for our teachers.
Steve is also the most experienced of all sitting trustees. Remember, Michelle Gordon and Vincent Lentini have one year of sitting board Experience. Tracey Miller and Ed Corona have two years. Jennifer Hyland has three years and Megan Ryan has 7 months. Steve will bring 6 years of experience with him and has no learning curve. Under the watchful eyes of Jenn Hyland, Ed Corona, Tracey Miller, Vincent Lentini and Michelle Gordon, our Administrative Expenses rose 4% each year for the past two years, or approximately $372,000 a year. We need someone with Steve’s skillset to question the Superintendent’s spending and rising administrative costs.
Steve also understands the relationship between the Board and Superintendent. Remember his answer during MCN? “The Board hires the Superintendent; they are her boss”. Remember, he worked with David Feller between 2012-2017 without any issues. He previously did, and can do the same, with Superintendent Seniuk. Steve will not treat the Superintendent as an “Eighth Board Member” or permit the Superintendent to assume the functions and responsibilities of the Board. This will not make him “anti” anything or anyone. It will simply make him the right person for the job.
Experienced CPA, Fiscal Watchdog, Endorsed by Long Island Opt Out-- Independent
Robert has been a North Merrick resident for 15 years. After graduating High School, he worked for Nassau County as a plant operator and was a member of CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association) Local 830 Union for four years. He went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant designation (CPA) and has worked in this field for 25 years. He spent the first 18 years at “Big 4” Accounting firms and is currently a Partner in a national CPA firm. Part of his everyday responsibilities include counseling corporations on how to be fiscally responsible and finding ways to cut costs and ensure productivity. Rob was a volunteer fire fighter in Lynbrook for 12 years and served on the Board of the North Merrick Little League for 2 years.
Rob has three children in three different schools in North Merrick - Calhoun, MAMS, and Camp Ave. His wife is a proud member of the NYS Teachers Union. His father is a retired union sheet metal worker. His mother is a current CSEA member and employee of Nassau County for the past 50 years. Two of his brothers are retired from the NYPD and Nassau Fire Marshals. He points this out because some people are quick to say, “fiscal responsibility” means “anti-union” and that is just not the case with Rob.
Rob is also running on an independent ticket and his platform is fiscal responsibility and transparency. As Rob stated during MCN, because he supports cutting costs and questions the spending of the Superintendent and Administration, does not mean that he is against anyone or any group. Rob believes that both sides of the table need to come together and compromise on spending our tax dollars. Rob has a vested interest in our district as a taxpayer and as a father that sends his kids to our public schools. His skill set as an accountant will permit him to look at our District’s spending through different lenses and find ways to cut administrative costs so that we have more money to spend on children’s programs like language and extra help. We have been told over an over how tight our budget is, Rob will know how to stretch the budget so that everyone; teachers, administrators and above all, our students; benefit.
Attorney, Experienced in Board Fiduciary Responsibility, Independent
Megan is a lifelong North Merrick Resident and a product of the North Merrick school district. She attended Fayette, MAMS and Calhoun. Her children attend the Fayette School. She was appointed by Jenn Hyland, Ed Corona, Tracey Miller, Vincent Lentini, Wendy Garguilo and Michelle Gordon in September 2018 to fill the seat left vacant by John Pinto’s resignation. She has served on the Board for the past 7 months and is seeking to be elected to fill one of the three trustee seats since the seat she filled was up for re-election this year.
Megan is an attorney and currently serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for NuHealth/NUMC. She is the corporation’s Chief Legal Officer, overseeing all legal, corporate governance, privacy and ethics functions. Megan has served as NuHealth/NUMC’s Chief Compliance, Privacy and Ethics officer responsible for investigating any suspicion of fraud, waste or abuse and has been responsible for maintaining a strong compliance program since 2016. Megan has prior board experience, serving as Executive Board Member representing NUMC on the Nassau Queens Performing Provider System. Megan knows how to root out corporate waste, fraud and abuse. She is well versed in the use of Executive Session and Open Meetings Law.
We understand that there are signs in the neighborhood indicating that she is running on the Hyland/Acuna ticket and has been endorsed by the North Merrick Faculty Association. Megan has welcomed endorsements and support from everyone and every group, is not taking sides and is running an independent campaign. Based on Megan’s actions as a trustee for the past 7 months and her presentation at MCN, if elected, she will continue not to take sides. CRONM doesn’t think that this is such a bad thing. As for the North Merrick Faculty Association, they have indicated that they care about this community and residents. Their decision to endorse Megan instead of just Jenn and Gerry is a step in the right direction.
It is clear to anyone attending or viewing videos of board meetings that Megan’s goal is to continue to ensure that our children receive the best education and benefits our tax dollars can bring. Megan will not permit the support of any group to influence her actions if elected to the Board. Compared with Jenn Hyland and Gerry Acuna, Megan possesses stronger qualities, experience and skill and will be a nice compliment to Rob and Steve’s background and experience. If all three are elected, we anticipate that they will work well together to cut administrative costs and ensure that the new Board will be transparent, follow open meetings law and not misuse Executive Session. Something the current board has failed to accomplish.
JENNIFER HYLAND AND GERRY ACUNA
Jennifer Hyland and Gerry Acuna are running on one ticket and have been endorsed by the North Merrick Faculty Association. Both Jenn and Gerry are family oriented, care about this town and want the best for our kids. Jenn’s children attend Camp Ave while Gerry’s attend Fayette. We know that both have strong ties to the community volunteering for the PTA, Girl Scouts and Little League. Our community is lucky to have such hardworking residents who want to get even more involved and serve as trustees on our Board. However, as already indicated, being nice, well liked and having good intentions are no longer good skill sets for a Board Trustee.
We are particularly concerned that out of all the candidates running for the Board trustee position, Jennifer Hyland is the only one who has accepted financial support and donations from the North Merrick Faculty Association while serving on the Board. Our FOIL results have uncovered that NMFA and other residents in this town, provided financial support in the form of signs and purchasing adds in the Herald. Accepting donations does not make her a bad person. However, these donations have influenced Jenn’s decisions and actions as a Board Trustee for the last three years. As for Gerry Acuna, based on his responses during MCN and in the community, he has shown that he is easily influenced by group or individual’s views.
We want to wish Jen and Gerry the best in their campaign and thank them for running. We want them to know that this is not personal. We respect them for volunteering to be on the BOE – it’s a big job and we need community members like them to be willing to do it. They clearly care a lot about North Merrick and our children by volunteering to run for the BOE. However, Jenn’s conduct and decision making during the past three years, Jenn and Gerry’s answers at MCN on the role of the BOE, comment cards, discussing the sale of Fayette land in executive session, and the role of the Superintendent did not lead us to believe that they are the best choices for North Merrick.
The resignation of 2 longtime, well respected BOE trustees within 5 months of another, videos of this year’s past Board of Education Meetings, and our FOIL results have exposed the truth and dysfunction that has encircled our current BOE trustees; Jennifer Hyland, Ed Corona, Tracey Miller, Vincent Lentini and Michelle Gordon. These trustees, have demonstrated an inability to maintain neutrality, uphold their fiduciary responsibilities, obligations and duties towards North Merrick residents and our children. North Merrick wants and deserves trustees who listen and respect residents and understands our concerns. We want a BOE that doesn’t try to muzzle our ability to communicate those concerns during board meetings or get annoyed when we question the fiscal decisions of the Board as a whole.
The above is CRONM’s opinion and position. It is not meant to influence or sway your vote. It is meant to start a dialogue with your friends and neighbors. CRONM does not believe that it’s appropriate for any organization or group to tell residents who they should vote for and how. CRONM was created to provide clear, unbiased, information on the BOE. That’s why we videotape. So, you can see with your own eyes and come to your own conclusions. Our mission is to get North Merrick residents to become more involved and informed about how the Board and District are spending our hard-earned tax dollars. Most importantly, we want more than 1,200 residents to vote at the upcoming May 21, 2018 election.
CRONM wants the North Merrick resident’s decision to vote for a candidate to be well reasoned and well researched. Don’t vote for a board trustee because the facebook group you belong too told you to, because you saw their name on a sign, because your friends told you, or because the newspaper told you. Vote because you believe that this person will protect the interests of you, your children and the North Merrick Taxpayer.
We know a lot of you are frustrated and distrustful of the current Board and feel that they do not represent the North Merrick taxpayers. The only way to fix this issue is to vote. It is that simple. Steve lost last year by 12 votes. That’s six households. If you don’t vote, you cannot complain and nothing will change. Only we can change the current climate just by VOTING.