(Note: for letters to the editor about the township committee election, click here.)

Endorsing Jess Grillo

As a resident of Hopewell Borough, I offer my full personal endorsement of Jess Grillo as an important voice that needs to be included on the Hopewell Valley School Board.

Jess represents a new generation of families in Hopewell Borough that are actively investing in our community.  Like me, Jess and her young family are committed to making the Borough even more vibrant, desirable, and a beacon for other young families looking for a special sense of community here in New Jersey.  While I believe that experience and longevity does provide a solid foundation for government, one of the nine voices should introduce this contemporary viewpoint, and currently there is no one else running or on the School Board who provides such perspective.

Jess appreciates everything the community has to offer but is actively engaging to make it even better.  Jess moreover understands the community as she has lived her whole life here in Mercer County, and her husband, Mike, attended Timberlane and Central High.  Jess will advocate for Hopewell Borough, offer fresh ideas, and not be a rubber stamp for existing policy and direction. Her professional experience in human resources will ensure more transparency and good relations within the Board and to the community at large.

Finally, Jess wants great schools for her kids but is very sensitive about the need for affordable taxes.  She has expressed great concern that then School Board imposed the highest tax increase in a decade with Hopewell Borough bearing the largest brunt of it in Hopewell Valley.

Please join me in voting for Jess Grillo as the Hopewell Borough representative for School Board.

Christopher Malikschmitt, Hopewell Borough

Elect Bill Herbert and John Mason to school board

I’ve known Bill Herbert for 14 years and am confident that he’d be an asset to the Hopewell Valley School Board. Bill’s intelligence, strong values, and vast experience make him the perfect candidate.

There’s no doubt that Bill is committed to community service. He’s coached countless soccer and lacrosse teams, served as a member of the soccer board since 2010, and was Treasurer of the Princeton Community Church for five years.

One of the qualities I admire most about Bill is his willingness to assimilate different points of view and compromise. Bill has a rare combination of approachability and fierce commitment that will allow him to work with diverse personalities and optimally serve the stakeholders of our education system.

Bill is passionate about bringing transparency and clear communication to our community. We’ve recently seen budgets passed with little debate and no compromise, which has all but eliminated taxpayer accountability. The breadth and depth of Bill’s financial background–including his positions as VP of Financial Planning & Analysis and Group CFO at Jackson Hewitt–will bring a welcome level of expertise and fiscal responsibility.

It’s also important to have someone representing the community who doesn’t have students in the district. If elected, he’d be the only one with that status. Bill appreciates the outstanding education his daughters received in Hopewell and supports ensuring exceptional offerings, yet believes we should only increase budgets for reasons clearly communicated to and supported by the community. HVRSD costs are now the most per-pupil in Mercer County, making it even more unaffordable to live here. The one board member who protested the spending increase and wanted to look for alternatives was literally shouted down by another member. 

Bill’s leadership skills, commitment and passion make him the obvious choice.  I could not recommend him highly enough! 

Jennifer Davis

Endorsing Bill Herbert

I am writing to endorse Bill Herbert as a candidate to represent Hopewell Township on the Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education. I have known Bill and his family for about 17 years and consider it a privilege to call him my friend. Bill is a devoted family man. He has shown his commitment to his family and community by spending many hours volunteering with Hopewell Valley youth sports and his church.

Bill has an extensive background as a finance professional. His comprehensive knowledge of financial matters will be a great asset to the Board of Education.

He has the business experience to make tough and thoughtful decisions and the cordial temperament required to work with a diverse team of board members.

I have observed that Bill is an extremely hard worker both in his professional career and his personal life. Bill is a very ethical person and has a very strong sense of responsibility and loyalty to his family including extended family and friends. As a friend, I have observed him make well thought out decisions. He uses his time and resources carefully and wisely while still being generous with both.

I would trust Bill to help me with financial matters and I would like you to consider trusting him to wisely use your tax dollars to support and further improve our great schools. I enthusiastically endorse my friend Bill Herbert to represent Hopewell Township on the Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education.

John C. Raskin, Pennington

Former school board member endorses Herbert and Mason

Upon reviewing the five candidates running for two Township School Board seats, I was disappointed that the incumbent chose not to respond to our Hopewell newspapers. All other candidates shared details.

While everyone appeared for the televised forum, it’s off-putting to show up only for cameras but skip the hard work. Before I joined the board over a decade ago, community relations and transparency were huge problems. It took us years to reverse that trend.

Please don’t let the pendulum swing back as it has this past year. You may recall that the public was unfamiliar with the Board’s tax hikes until clearly shared in my Express letter last April. Incumbent outreach activity, or lack thereof, is indicative of what to expect upon re-election.

When I spoke to Bill Herbert and John Mason they seemed fiscally responsible and will not only look out for students but also for the 2/3 of district voters that have no students in the district. As the only candidates actively trying to get their messaging to the electorate, they’ll have my vote.

Roy Dollard, Hopewell Township  

Herbert and Mason make their case

We are immensely grateful to the League of Women Voters for hosting a voter forum. While we touched on a number of important topics, there is more that voters need to know about important school-related issues.

One critical issue not discussed at the forum was taxes. This year, the public became engaged in the budgetary process after the board passed a preliminary budget that raised concerns from community leaders. If you care about education or your tax bill, we hope you continue to stay involved. While traditional and social media seems quite focused on municipal issues and political races, the school board’s decisions have far greater impact on your pocketbook.

Take these facts as examples of the import and impact of school budget decisions:

  • FACT: The 2019 school budget is about $83 million.
  • FACT: The SCHOOL portion of your property tax bill is greater than all other segments COMBINED (Municipality, County, Open Space, Fire).
  • FACT: For Township residents, the school portion of property taxes went up $0.049 per $100 — the driving factor in total property taxes going up $0.054 per $100.
  • FACT: The segment with the greatest percentage increase was the FIRE District at 6.5%, yet its impact was hundredths of a penny.
  • FACT: The 2019 School tax levy increase of $3.8 million exceeded that of the previous 4 years combined — AND — cut services, despite receiving the highest state aid increase after a 12+ year continuing enrollment decline.
  • FACT: The month after the School Board passed its budget spending $2.3 million OVER the state-mandated 2% cap, the Board authorized transferring $2.5 million to Reserves.

In their 2019 self-evaluation, the School Board reported record low performance in its handling of finance, board effectiveness, and community relations. Please elect Herbert & Mason for our commitment to more responsible budgeting with reasonable taxes, while improving communication with residents and outcomes for all students.

Bill Herbert and John Mason, Hopewell Township