In certain elections, ballot placement can be a much bigger factor than people realize.
Case in point: Four candidates ran for three seats in last year’s Galloway Township Board of Education elections. Ernest Huggard, who had been on the board for 12 years and served as board president for 10, drew the fourth spot , placing him at the bottom of the ballot.
He didn’t get re-elected. Both Huggard and board member Eileen Kasunich feel this played a major role in Huggard not being re-elected.
Kasunich knew Huggard would run again this year, when three seats will once again be up for grabs in the April 27 election, and she didn’t want to see history repeated.
So Kasunich decided not to run for re-election.
“He needs to be back, and I’m willing to give up my spot,” Kasunich said.
Kasunich’s sacrifice paves the way for President John Knorr, Vice President George Schwenger and Huggard to run for the three open seats.
“I didn’t have any conversations with her,” Huggard said. “I think it all stems from last year when I said I would run again. I was happy, but I was surprised she decided not to run.”
Huggard described last year’s experience as “extremely disappointing and devastating.”
“I never expected that,” he said. “It’s extremely important to me to be back on the board. I feel I offer a lot with 12 years of experience.”
“He has a financial mind,” Kasunich said. “He has a financial background, and he was very instrumental in getting finance through.”
Kasunich added that she would love to return to the board if the opportunity presents itself, but would also like to see parents with children currently enrolled in the school system get more involved.
She’s been a member of the Galloway Board of Education for seven years. Before that, she was the PTA president’s liaison, and she was involved in the Smithville PTA for five years.
She has had three children go through the Galloway Township School System, the youngest of which is now a sophomore at Absegami High School, and the oldest of which is 24. She does have some nieces and nephews in the school system.
“We’re all here because we want to make a difference,” Kasunich said. “We have no hidden agendas. … I would love to see more participation. It would be fantastic to get some other people involved.”
Kasunich feels the board has made some important strides in her time as a member, including the implementation of some cutting edge technology, adding a gym to the Reeds Road Elementary School, and overseeing the arrival of a new Superintendent, Annette Giaquinto, just to name a few.
“It is rewarding to be on the board,” Kasunich said. “We’ve implemented a lot of new policies.”
Perhaps Kasunich will be back on the board someday, but she’s also hoping for some new blood to mix with those who are already making a difference.