Two prominent players in the last November’s election had advice for how the Galloway Township School District can ensure more registered voters come out to vote in the March 13 referendum when the Superintendent’s Advisory Team convened on Thursday night, Feb. 23 at the Reeds Road School auditorium.
Newly elected Township Councilman Brian Tyrrell and the chairman of the Galloway Democratic Club, Michael Suleiman, each gave their opinions when it came to taking the message to the voters.
“It’s on you to win,” Suleiman said. “If you don’t win, it’s your fault. You have to go out to the people. If you’re relying on the website and the tax calculator, you’re not going to win.”
“It has to be a targeted get out the vote,” Tyrrell added. “It’s easier to convince someone who already believes it’s important to go out and vote. In the two to three weeks leading up to the election, you need to put together a strong phone effort. Bring people together, write out a script for everyone to say, keep it short and call as many people as you can.”
Tyrrell suggested looking up a record of registered voters who have voted in past elections and making sure they know when and where to vote.
Tyrrell ran for council for the first in 2011, as a Republican, finishing third in the voting. Suleiman’s efforts helped incumbent Democrat Jim Gorman get re-elected to council. Gorman finished second in voting.
The March 13 referendum deals with roof replacement at Smithville, Arthur Rann and Roland Rogers elementary schools, fire alarm replacement for Smithville, Roland Rogers and Reeds Road, and drainage system and parking lot improvements for Arthur Rann.
Residents with a home assessed at $100,000 would have seen a raise in taxes of $14.42 as a result of the $5.6 million project, and residents with a home assessed at $200,000 would have seen a raise in taxes of $28.84.
Tax ramifications on residents’ homes can now be calculated on the district’s website, via the Tax Impact Calculator, a new tool implemented following the suggestion at the previous Advisory Team’s meeting.
The team voiced more ideas and concerns to the school district Thursday night, including the chance of offending those who previously voted down the proposed budget by going back out to vote.
Galloway Superintendent of Schools Annette Giaquinto responded by saying that the district was going back out to vote because the referendum was defeated by so few votes, and that the projects needed to be done.
Others believed the fact that the Galloway referendum in December was held the same day as the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District’s referendum in December, and that being the only budget to be voted on in March may help.
Giaquinto reiterated the district would need the help of the Advisory Team to get the message of the referendum out. The team was assembled to establish two-way communication between the district and the residents, but Giaquinto stated the team will continue to meet beyond the referendum date.
On Thursday night, Giaquinto wanted to make sure team members were available to make phone calls, and get out to voters at locations throughout the township, such as the library and ShopRite, among others.
“We need your help to get our message out,” Giaquinto said.
Before the December referendum, the school district set up tables at local events, including a play at Absegami High School. That type of effort has continued with the upcoming referendum, including a table at the Wellness Fair earlier this month at the middle school.