Bayonne voters go to the polls on Nov. 3 for the first time in about 35 years to vote for Board of Education trustees. Bayonne’s mayor had appointed school board members until a public referendum last November mandated an elected school board.
Each year, three board of trustee members are to be elected to three-year terms.
This week, the nine candidates seeking one of three seats on the board are profiled.
Joseph Broderick’s resume includes 45 years in the field of education, including 35 with the Bayonne Board of Education.
His titles in the Bayonne School District included coordinator of the Home School Links Program and assistant director of community education. For 13 years he was director of the Bayonne High School Physical Education/Community Education Center, where his duties included oversight of the Bayonne Ice Rink, track, gyms, and meeting rooms. For 15 years he was vice principal of Bayonne High School.
“I believe in being proactive, instead of reactive,” Broderick said.
He received a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from Seton Hall University in South Orange.
John Cupo is a real estate professional who has sold properties throughout Hudson County and run offices in Bayonne, Jersey City, and North Bergen.
He has served as a commissioner on the Jersey City Board of Adjustment from 1985 to 1990. From 1977 to 1985, he was a member of the Hudson County Columbus Parade Committee, holding positions as parade chairman and dinner chairman.
In 2012 and 2014, he was voted to leadership posts in the Bayonne Republican Committee.
He was a leader in the Bayonne School Board Choice movement.
“I will use my proven business experience” to help the board, he said.
Cupo graduated from St. Aloysius Grammar School and St. Aloysius High School in Jersey City. He also attended St. Peter’s College.
Mary Jane Desmond
Mary Jane Desmond was deputy county clerk and acting county clerk for Hudson County and has been a Bayonne councilwoman.
While on the Bayonne City Council, she chaired the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority’s Strategic Planning Committee, was a BLRA commissioner, and was a trustee on the Bayonne School Board of Estimate Committee.
Currently a practice manager at a Summit surgical office, she has also served as business manager at a women’s health center at the Jersey City Medical Center.
Desmond worked to save Bayonne Medical Center when it was in danger of closing in 2006-07.
She currently serves on the Board of Education, after being appointed following a resignation.
Desmond has been educated in the fields of finance, real estate, and health care.
For 34 years Ava Finnerty was an English teacher at Bayonne High School.
“I’m retired, but still inspired,” is her slogan.
She is a fixture at Board of Education meetings, voicing her opinion on a number of issues.
If elected, Finnerty said she will be committed to bringing academic excellence to all students.
Having been a teacher until recently, she says she has a working knowledge of Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the challenges those mandates bring to both students and teachers.
One of her main goals would be to advocate for fair and equitable funding from the state.
“I’m also a staunch proponent for fiscal responsibility and transparency in all actions and decisions made by the Bayonne Board of Education,” Finnerty said.
A lifelong resident of Bayonne, Leonard Kantor attends City Council meetings, offering his opinions on budgets, development, and other city matters.
He has also run for mayor, assemblyman, and councilman, including last year, on the ticket of mayoral candidate Anthony Zanowic.
Kantor served in the United States Air Force and is a veteran of the Korean War.
He was a member of the Bayonne Police Department from 1961 to 1980. He was president of the Policemen’s Benevolent Association for two years and a state delegate for six years.
Kantor was also employed by the New Jersey Waterfront Commission and the Homeland Security Department.
Kantor attended city elementary schools and graduated from Bayonne High School.
Barry Kushnir believes than his 23 years of experience with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and its union would serve him well on the Bayonne Board of Education, especially when it comes to negotiating the teachers’ contract.
If elected, he said, “I would concentrate on the academic success and welfare of students. Our current education plan no longer is meeting their needs.”
Kushnir has also been a trustee for the Urban League of Hudson County and Hudson County Housing Resource Center and an aide to former Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico of Bayonne.
Kushnir received a bachelor of arts in history and political science from Livingston College of Rutgers University and masters of labor and employment relations from Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations.
Born in the Washington Heights section of New York City, Patrick McManus knows what it is like to attend a Catholic school because the public schools in his neighborhood were crime ridden and had a substandard educational system.
McManus’s parents moved the family from Manhattan to Bayonne.
He attended Woodrow Wilson School and graduated from Horace Mann School and Bayonne High School.
“I believe that a thriving school system is one of the first steps to ensure a once great city becomes great once again,” McManus said.
If he wins a seat on the board, McManus said he would be a frequent visitor to Trenton to work with New Jersey Assembly representatives to secure more funding for the Bayonne district.
He received an associate of science degree in information technology from Anthem College.
Describing himself as a “passionate advocate for students and teachers,” Piechocki was a teacher in the Jersey City School System, where he taught children with special needs for approximately 14 years.
Now a Hudson County real-estate agent, Piechocki said he still has a strong interest in educational service. Piechocki and Mary Jane Desmond are current board trustees.
“I recognize the need for change in the school district,” he said. “I vow to continue to support the teachers of Bayonne, and believe that is the first step in moving the district forward.”
Piechocki has an 8 year old who attends public school and a 3 year old who will next year.
Piechocki is a graduate of the Bayonne public school system. He graduated from New Jersey City University, where he received bachelor’s degrees in media arts/communications and special education, and a master’s degree in special education.
Nancy Solis moved to Bayonne so her children could have a better education and would like to be part of improving the school district.
She believes that her experience as a school manager at the Garden State Science & Technology Institute in Jersey City will help her if she is elected to the board.
“I have served on many boards, including the PTA,” Solis said. “I have a strong community service background and have been serving the community for many years through educational workshops, job fairs, and motivational speaking.”
Solis has three children; the oldest graduated from Bayonne High School and is finishing her bachelor’s in psychology at New Jersey City University.
“My ultimate goal is to see all the kids in my community and around the nation get a better education and become the leaders of tomorrow,” she said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.