Three hopefuls for board seats

Two incumbents and a first time candidate seek the three open school board seats in Cranbury.

By: Lacey Korevec
   Two incumbents and a newcomer are shooting for a spot on the Cranbury School Board.
   Incumbents Julie Hardaker and Joan Weidner are seeking their second three-year terms and newcomer Wendi Patella is hoping for her first, as three open seats on the board wait to be filled.
   Current board member Adam Hawes, whose term expires in April, said he is not running for re-election because of other responsibilities.
   Elections will be held April 17.
   Ms. Patella, 37, a North Main Street resident who has lived in Cranbury for two years, said she was motivated to run because of recommendations by a legislative panel convened as part of a special Legislative session called by Gov. Jon Corzine over the summer to address state property taxes. She said the proposed ideas, including the creation of an executive county superintendent who would have the power to recommend the consolidation of smaller school districts, could affect Cranbury. The recommendation would need voter approval. The proposal, A-4 in the Assembly, and S-19 in the state Senate, were approved by both houses in February and are awaiting the governor’s signature.
   Ms Patella has a daughter who is currently in second grade at Cranbury a school and one preparing to enter kindergarten in the fall. She runs Patella Ink Creative Communications in Cranbury.
   "There’s a lot of policy and legislation pending in Trenton that could have a big impact on small districts like Cranbury," she said. "And Cranbury is such a unique school and school district that I would hope to be able to help preserve that and keep it as the community treasure that it is really."
   For now, Ms. Patella plans to continue attending board meetings.
   "I appreciate the hard work that goes into maintaining such a quality school," she said. "It’s one of the reasons that I moved to Cranbury. I suspect its one of the main reasons a lot of families moved to Cranbury."
   Ms. Hardaker, 47, said her first term on the board has been interesting and fulfilling and she hopes a second term will allow her to put her experience to good use.
   "I’ve learned so much," she said. "If I’m fortunate enough to be elected to a second term, I feel now I would be able to use all that I’ve learned over the past three years to even do more for our school and children."
   A nine-year resident of Danser Drive, Ms. Hardaker has a seventh-grader at Cranbury School and an 18-year-old who graduated from Cranbury School and Princeton High School. Outside of the school board, she works as a preschool teacher.
   Ms. Weidner, 55, of North Main Street, has lived in Cranbury for 23 years.
   "I’d like to continue to contribute to the high quality of our schools," she said. "I’ve just learned a lot in the past three years and would like to put that knowledge to good use for another three years."
   Ms. Weidner, a retired attorney, has one son who graduated Cranbury School and is a freshman at Princeton High School.
   Residents who still need to register to vote must do so by March 27.
   Polls will be open on April 17 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Town Hall.