Putting KIDS First candidates & supporters exceed door-to-door plan to reach parents, students and taxpayers before early voting begins
Piscataway, NJ – The Putting KIDS First team of Nancy SALGADO-COWAN, Sarah RASHID and Dr. Tom Connors, running together for Piscataway’s Board of Education in Column 2 announced today that they have exceeded their goal of reaching 10,000 households in the Township. Candidates and supporters visited 10,006 homes in NJ’s seventh most diverse community ahead of the start of NJ’s early voting options, which begin on October 23. The candidates, two of whom have previously served on the School Board, said the response from residents has been extremely positive.
“We are talking about changing the leadership of the School Board, which has suffered from multiple ethical lapses, legal actions and ineffectiveness from their lack of participation in our schools,” said Nancy Salgado-Cowan, a certified pediatric nurse and former PTO President. “Parents, families and staff want leaders on the Board who will expand mental health services and protect students from dangerous proposals that threaten our children, like building warehouses next to our elementary schools. We are the team that is Putting KIDS First”
Current School Board leaders are aligned with the Township’s Mayor Brian C. Wahler and the Piscataway Democratic Organization, who have given approvals for over 300,000 square feet of warehouse space to be built by a campaign donor next to Randolphville Elementary School. The school is already surrounded by warehouses, despite being located near the Halper Farm site, which officials have promised for decades would become an ecological park. Incumbents on the Board are not running for re-election, but the Mayor is supporting other challengers running to replace them.
“We will always stand up for families in our community, and we are not beholden to any special interest,” said Sarah Rashid, who served for a short period as an interim BOE member. “We will work to fix the school lunch fiasco and expand healthy safe food options for our students in every building. Our team has proven experience on the Board, and will represent a diverse cross-section of our dynamic population.” If elected, Salgado-Cowan and Rashid would be the only Latina and Muslim elected officials, respectively, in the entire municipality.
The candidates have had an active presence on social media, including making fun TikTok videos they have posted on Instagram. “It’s important to communicate with voters, especially our youth, on the platforms they use,” said Dr. Tom Connors, who has previously served on the School Board as both President and Vice President. “We know that voters also appreciate some traditional methods, like the going door-to-door. I have gotten such a warm reception from so many people!”
“People are excited about our ideas for increasing accountability, raising academic achievements and improving communication,” said Rashid, who has had four children in the district and who currently serves on the Piscataway Education Foundation. “Voters in Piscataway want a change, and they are glad we are out in their neighborhoods talking with them about improving our schools.”
The candidates say that there are many issues that remain unaddressed by the district’s leadership during the pandemic and the return to school. “We want our kids to be in physically and emotionally safe environment so they can thrive,” said Rashid, who spearheaded the district’s first Diwali celebration. “We are independent voices, here for the kids and staff, not for anyone’s political agenda.”
The candidates are getting some help from their neighbors and other volunteers who are supporting their effort, and, not surprisingly, their families. Since they started going door-to-door last month, the campaign has fielded dozens of parents, friends and students knock on doors in every area of the community.
“Going door to door is a two-way exchange. As candidates, we can talk about the issues we have identified and we get to hear from voters about their suggestions for improving our schools. It has been a great experience already, and we are looking forward to reaching even more voters door before Election Day,” Dr. Connors said.
Voters want to know where candidates stand on a range of concerns and understand who the candidates are, Salgado-Cowan noted. She said their opponents only recently created a website, which has vague promises but very little information.
“People really want to know who is running, what they represent and what they will do for our community. We are accessible, transparent and available as individuals and as candidates and will continue to be that way as Board of Education members,” Salgado-Cowan said.
The Putting Kids First team has been endorsed by community leaders Lt. Ralph Johnson, Shantell Cherry and Zoe Scotto. While members of the Piscataway School Board, they endorsed Salgado-Cowan, Rashid and Connors as private citizen and made it clear that they were not speaking on behalf of the Board, nor are they authorized to speak on behalf of the Board.
Johnson noted that the people responsible for trying to illegally remove him from the Board last year, are not running again. including a member who was censured by the NJ Department of Education for signing an Islamophobic flyer, paid for by Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway), during the 2019 Democratic Primary.
“Piscataway taxpayers, families and, most especially our students, deserve school officials who will lift our community up. I am proud, in my personal capacity, to support my friends Nancy Salgado-Cowan, Sarah Rashid and Dr. Tom Connors, because they believe in Putting KIDS First,” he said.
More information about the candidates and the campaign is available at www.forpwaykids.com