Dear Hoboken Neighbor,

I hope you are doing well. I write to let you know that this November, there is an important election for school board in Hoboken.

I’m pleased to support the Leadership that Listens team of Leslie Norwood (2I), Antonio Grana (3I), and Alex De La Torre (4I), and ask you to consider voting for them as well. All three are longtime residents, dedicated community activists with children in the school district, and have a history of supporting our schools.

About the Leadership that Listens team

Alex De La Torre, who has children at Hoboken High School and Hoboken Middle School, is a current member of the school board, and has a proven record of supporting Superintendent Christine Johnson’s efforts to expand Pre-K, increase graduation rates to an impressive 95%, and implementing with the current board a top-notch school curriculum with more Advanced Placement classes than ever. Under Alex’s and the current school’s board leadership, state and national recognition of Hoboken’s Middle School and High Schools continues to grow with students and programs receiving more and more state-level awards each year, as well as a growing number of college admissions to top-notch schools.

Antonio Grana, who has a child in Hoboken Middle School, is an active member of our community, most notably as a member of the zoning board. I can tell you that I know Antonio treats each application with due diligence and asks thoughtful questions of applicants, all important qualities that would serve him well on the school board. He has been a member of his daughter’s Parent Teacher Organization at Connors Elementary School, and now the Hoboken Middle School, and as a result has direct, firsthand knowledge of many of the issues our school-age children face.

Leslie Norwood, who has two children at Brandt Elementary School, is a current board member of the Hoboken Public Education Foundation, a non-profit that has done an incredible job raising money to support various programming and extracurricular activities in our schools. She has a substantial record of volunteer work serving on the Brandt Parent Consortium for Pre-K, Brandt Parent Teachers Organization, and the Hoboken Special Needs Parent Advisory Group.

Alex, Antonio and Leslie’s record, involvement in our schools, and volunteer work speak volumes about their character and why I believe they are well positioned to serve our children on the school board.

Important considerations for voters

I know for many, the high school referendum is a topic that is important to many residents. Voters made it clear that the proposal put on the ballotwould have benefitted from even deeper community input and was too much, too soon. When I met with Leslie, Antonio and Alex, they made it clear that they’ve listened to and taken this feedback to heart, learned from the mistakes made during the process, and will push for much greater community engagement on any school-related capital improvement projects going forward.

On other topics, I believe it is important for school board members to make evidence-based decisions, free from politics, with the sole goal of improving our education system. I know that Leslie, Antonio and Alex trust our educators to make the decisions on which books to teach our children, believe in diversity and inclusion training, and come to decisions and opinions based on sound science and data. The choice for me, especially in comparison to previous public comments made by other candidates in the race, is abundantly clear – Leadership that Listens has my vote.

No matter your preference of candidates, I encourage you to participate in the election on Tuesday, November 8. You can also vote early once again at City Hall (no matter your Election Day poll site) from October 29 through November 6. To find out your poll site on Election Day, click here.


Ravi S. Bhalla