People ask how the team came together. Tom explains:
“I am a long-time and committed advocate for Hoboken public education opportunities. I was a co-founder and first board president of Elysian Charter School back in the 1990s, and have brought equal zeal to the Hoboken Board of Education since I was first elected to the board in 2012. Plus my wife has her Masters in Early Childhood Education, and is special education teacher. It’s all we ever talk about at home — public education.
“As a Hoboken Board of Ed member, I am but one of nine and can take no personal credit for the revolution that is happening in our district schools. Indeed, that turnaround began before my tenure by some strong education advocates themselves. The movement has only gained momentum over the past few years and I am committed to the day when our district public schools have the full confidence and support of a proud Hoboken community.
“Three years ago, when I sought reelection to the board after my first term, my running mates and I faced strong opposition from an opposing slate of which John Madigan was the most outspoken. It was a terribly bitter campaign, but I managed to get elected, as did John, and we found ourselves serving on the board together. I did not like or trust him, and the feeling was probably mutual. At first, we spoke only when necessary, and as little as possible.
“At the same time, we were all witness to the regrettable political dysfunction in Washington, in Trenton, and even here in Hoboken. And I began to make the connection: not talking is definitely NOT how to get things done.
“So I decided to build a bridge to my nemesis. Once I became board president, and despite our past differences, I made John the chair of the Facilities Committee. The next year, I put him on the Finance Committee. And John, understanding the trust I was placing in him, began to trust me. Over the past three years, we slowly came together in our support for the district, its innovative programs, and the budget. Today, there is no space between us on the board issues that matter most.
“And that is the genesis of this year’s Hoboken Proud slate. In June, I did the unthinkable: I reached out to John about the possibility of us running together. This would be a unique opportunity to move past the political animus that we see just about everywhere else in our society and demonstrate the possibilities of working together towards a common cause.
“Hoboken Proud is John, a life-long resident of Hoboken, joining with me, an aging “yuppie,” and Malani Cademartori, a super-involved district mom and outspoken public school advocate herself. We represent a lot of what Hoboken is about — the old and the new, the us and the them, the energy and the passion. We are proud of how far the district has come, where it is going, and want to rally the entire Hoboken community in support of a strong public school district.”