Six Vie For Three Board Of Ed Seats

Brick Township Board of Education. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – Six residents are running for three, three-year terms on the Board of Education this year, including two incumbents, one former Board member and three newcomers.

Each of the candidates was asked to provide candidate profiles, including their age, work background, if they have held public office before, if they have children in the district, and why they are running for the Board of Education. Here are their email responses in alphabetical order:

John Barton

John Barton, 61, is a graduate of Brick High School, and so are his two children. He served on the Brick School Board from 2015-2017 and ran for re-election.

“Even though I lost my last attempt at being re-elected, I am compelled to run to give the public an informed, honest, reasonable candidate to vote for,” he wrote.

“I am running to give voters a choice to have honest, reasonable practices from their school board. I am running to continue to work alongside the remaining board and current administration to help find solutions to the budget crisis everyone in town is facing,” he said.

Barton is married and works in a public school.

Robert “Rob” Canfield III

Robert “Rob” Canfield III, 27, earned his BA in Pastoral Ministry at the University of Valley Forge. He is employed by Allied Dental in Toms River as a patient care representative.

Canfield is an Assemblies of God minister who is currently serving as a volunteer pastor at churches in Tinton Falls and Wall.

“My reason for running is the Board of Education in Brick is a mess,” he wrote. “Taxes are up over $16 million in the last ten years, and the new superintendent’s contract is going to cost taxpayers over $255,000 a year.”

Canfield cited the current Board president’s involvement with a super PAC (political action committee) that she runs. Wolhrab voted to award a contract to the district’s insurance brokerage firm that had contributed to her super PAC.

“I believe her actions are highly unethical,” Canfield said. “It’s time to clean up the school board.”

He said the district needs to cut wasteful spending and take tax increases off the table.

“I don’t see any reason that we can’t cut some fat without hurting our kids or taxpayers,” he wrote.

Canfield, who does not have children, said student safety should be a top priority.

Victoria Pakala earned her Master’s Degree in special education from Rutgers University and teaches special education students in a private school in Toms River.

Victoria Pakala

She is the mother of three grown children and she has three grandchildren.

As a current Board member, Pakala is running for re-election.

“I was first elected to the Brick Board of Education in 2015, and much has changed for our students, teachers and in our schools during these past three years,” she wrote.

Pakala said students have shown academic improvement while teachers are being supported with the resources and professional development they need to improve their instructional practices.

She said there have been many positive changes inside and outside the school buildings, and the board has hired “the most qualified leadership” in new superintendent, Gerard Dalton.

“I believe in Brick and the many improvements that can continue to enhance our school students’ educational experience. I have served on multiple board of education committees these past three years including Curriculum and Instruction, Finance and Budget, Facilities, Human Resources, Special Education and others,” she wrote.

Pakala said that through her experience she has learned a lot about how to help the district to continue to improve. “Serving on the Board of Education requires dedication and commitment that I will continue to make these next three years,” she said.

Nicole Siebert, 37, has a Bachelor’s Degree in marketing and management and works as a senior private client group underwriter for AIG Private Client Group.

Nicole Siebert

She has not held a public office before, but is involved with the PTA at Warren Wolf Elementary School, participates in races to raise money for disabled children (with her daughter, who is disabled), and has started a non-profit called Alexander’s Dream.

Siebert has lived in Brick for 11 years with her husband, and she has two children in the school district.

“I am running for the Board of Education to make sure the school board focuses more on the children, the district employees as well as the community while removing politics from the process,” she wrote.

“My passion has and always will be our children’s success,” Siebert said. “This passion is further fueled by the deep involvements I’ve personally experienced.”

Stephanie Wohlrab, 47, is currently the President of the Board of Education, and she is running for re-election as part of the Believe in Brick Team with Victoria Pakala and Nicole Siebert.

Stephanie Wohlrab

Wohlrab has four children, two who are grown and two who currently attend Veterans Memorial Middle School. She expects that her two year-old grandson will also attend township schools.

“I’m running because we believe we can and must provide each student with an education that prepares them for life in the 21st century,” she wrote.

“We believe our schools can and must be safe for students. We believe that we have a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure tax dollars are not spent carelessly or wasted. As a parent, businesswoman and taxpayer, I know how important it is to balance the needs of our students with fiscal prudence,” she said.

Wohlrab owns and runs her own consulting business, and owns a home in Brick where she has lived for nine years.

Edward X. Young earned degrees at New York University in filmmaking, and is a self-employed film director and makeup effects artist.

Young worked as a field organizer for the Trump campaign.

Edward X. Young

“Tax and spend Democratic Party insiders are running our school board and we’re all paying the price,” Young wrote. “Taxes continue to rise at unsustainable rates and our schools are falling apart.”

He said raising taxes should be the last resort. “Cuts in funding to Brick and Toms River are just another example of Democratic wealth redistribution. (Gov. Phil) Murphy and (Senate President Steve) Sweeney are raising our taxes and sending the money to Democratic towns and cities,” he wrote. “I’m confident that we can find plenty of waste to cut at the school board without negatively impacting our kids.”

Young also expressed his desire to see Wohlrab resign since she is involved in a “pay to play scandal.”

He said that the security of the students needs to be a top priority but is skeptical of the plan posed in the upcoming $12 referendum to improve school safety.

“Whether the referendum passes or fails, I’m going to want to take a closer look once I’m elected,” Young wrote. “We need some new blood at the school board. That’s why I’m running.”

Election Day is November 6.