Four vying for 3 Bordentown Board of Education seats
The township is once again approaching this year’s election for Bordentown’s Board of Education, and there are four candidates competing for just three seats in the township.
While Peggy Gens will not be running for re-election, both Kimberly Zablow and Mark Drew will be competing for their current seats with two newcomers. These two candidates are Michael Dauber and Stephen Heberling, both running for the first time.
Michael Dauber, 51, is no stranger to local politics despite not having served on the BOE before. He served on the township committee from 2010 to 2012, and he was deputy mayor of Bordentown Township in 2011 and 2012.
He is a former employee of Merrill Lynch and is now a stay-at-home dad for his children, who are currently enrolled in the Bordentown Regional School District. He is a member of the American Legion, having served in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army. Dauber is also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Masons. He used to be a soccer coach for the Bordentown Community Soccer Association.
Dauber believes that the BOE has been fiscally irresponsible, citing a failed solar array project that is not saving as much money as planned.
“In the last five years, the school budget has gone up almost four million dollars, and our test scores have gone down,” Dauber said. “We always get excuses from the school board but nothing concrete on how they’re going to fix it.”
He pointed out that poor performance results from the schools would negatively affect the whole town, since families could be deterred from moving into the area.
Dauber said his prior experience in government would bring proper and respectful procedure back to the BOE. He wants to work with people of differing opinions to accomplish what is best for the children and taxpayers of the township.
Dauber is married with two children.
Mark Drew, 48, has lived in Bordentown his whole life, even having bought the house in which he grew up. He is married with two children who both go to school in the district.
Aside from serving on the BOE—he was voted in during the last election—Drew has been a school coach of basketball, baseball and football in Bordentown for the past 18 years.
Drew’s primary goal is to keep taxes down while still providing the best possible education for the children of Bordentown.
“Sixty percent of taxes go to the school budget, and it seems like there’s nobody questioning it,” Drew said. “I’ve been questioning everything, and I’ll continue to do so.”
Drew is also not happy with the lack of transparency the board has had recently with the public. He wants the public to know where their money is going.
“There have been very few committee reports given to the public. I think we have to change that and deal more with the public,” he said. “There have been 11 executive meetings… I don’t believe in executive meetings unless they’re for a personal matter.”
Stephen Heberling, 47, is an insurance agent who runs his business in Bordentown. He is married with two children who have attended Bordentown schools since kindergarten.
He is currently serving his second year as chairman of the Bordentown Parks and Recreation Committee and previously served four years on the board of the Bordentown Community Soccer Association as the director of recreational soccer. Heberling is assistant coach of the Bordentown Blaze U14 Boys Travel Soccer Team.
Heberling is concerned that Bordentown’s schools, particularly its high school, is not academically matched with other schools in the area, citing low SAT scores and a poor performance report from the Department of Education. He fears the BOE is not taking these results seriously and would rather dismiss the results as having had flawed data.
He also wants to focus on budgetary issues, referencing the tax increase in March of 3.92 percent, which was passed despite a 2 percent cap.
“Essentially, this move gave residents about 10 days to digest a $40 million dollar school budget with very little explanation,” Heberling said. “I don’t believe the current board understands that they are there to represent the respective communities who elected them.”
As a self-employed businessman, Heberling believes he can bring pragmatism to the board that is missing. He also points out that he will be accountable for mistakes and do everything in his power to fix them.
Kimberly Zablow, 48, is a small business owner who is also the vice president of the Board of Education, on which she is currently serving her seventh year. She believes that the board has been able to adapt to many challenges over the years, and she is running again because she feels she still has much to give the district.
Zablow respects the perspective of both parents and taxpayers. While owning a small business has given her a clear understanding of how the different parts of the school district work together, she has also been actively involved in her children’s education.
“I joined the PTO my first year in the district and never looked back,” Zablow said. “I wanted to get more involved as my kids started to get older and that was when I first ran for the board and was elected to represent the township.”
Addressing the lower test scores from the past year, Zablow acknowledges that it is an issue and they are working towards improving the scores by adding two AP classes and a district-sponsored PSAT test during the school day.
“Test scores do not tell the whole story about our district,” she said. “You have to look at the district as a whole; the courses offered; our special education program, which constantly is able to bring more children back into the district; our transportation department which has been ranked number one in the county for efficiency; our BILA program; ELPAT…and many other aspects of which there are just too many to mention.”
The election will be held on Nov. 5. More information on the Bordentown Board of Education can be found online at bordentown.k12.nj.us.