Statements from Candidates
It has been my pleasure to serve as your Association President for the past three years. I am asking for your vote to allow me to serve you once again. I am proud of the strides that our Association has made over the last several years. We have become more open and transparent than at any other time in our Association history. During my tenure as an Association leader, we have instituted mandatory training for our negotiators; we will continue on with that thinking for our other elected officials as well. I also want to hear about your ideas that you feel would help our Union. Ultimately, my goal is to give us all the best possible representation that we can have. I am confident that I can help lead the way. Thank you for your continued support.
JCC Instructional Vice President
My name is Michael Grele and I have been a vocational teacher in information technology at County Prep for 20 years. Prior to obtaining my alternate route certification, I worked as Network Operations Manager for the US company in a multinational IT training and consulting firm. I have also been a union truck driver and managed a worker run union printing co-op. I graduated from the Labor Studies program at Rutgers University, where I studied labor history, labor law, and labor economics.
I became more active in the union after having participated in the last round of contract negotiations. That experience taught me that effective negotiating can’t just happen in conference rooms with a small number of representatives but rather is something that all of us have an effect on through our day to day activities. If we are going to be effective in the conference room, we have to turn out to the meetings; we have to write, call, and meet with our legislators; and we need to build solidarity with each other and with the community. These are all important pieces in the negotiations process.
Only a mobilized and informed membership can make an effective union. I became active in both the Hudson and Essex County NJEA Legislative Action Teams. . I have attended a number of NJEA legislative and leadership training workshops, and successfully agitated for sending our negotiating team to training sessions prior to the negotiations.
I have been working to keep other members informed and active in influencing our politicians to support us, and to build solidarity between instructional and non-instructional members. Vote Mike!
NHC Instructional Vice President
My name is Vincent Nardiello and I’m a 20 year employee of the Hudson County Schools of Technology. During this time I’ve seen our school grow, develop, and evolve. I am running for vice-president because I believe it is time for our union to develop along with the school.
Our workplace is now very large and our schedules are busy and it is imperative that our union works to foster greater communication between staff members. The union should be a presence felt in the school with dues-paying members being made aware of their rights and resources available to them. This is especially important for our newer members that may not know the purpose and benefit of a strong union.
During my career I have served as a representative and have also run for both Executive Board and negotiating committee positions. Unfortunately, I have not been successful in these elections. Despite the disappointing losses I have remained an active union member and have volunteered my time to host focus groups prior to our recent negotiation. I have no desire for a supervisory position and wouldn’t be considered for one if I did. I’m a teacher and will remain a teacher. My family has a long history in both education and union leadership. This is an essential part of who I am and advocating on behalf of teachers is my priority.
I will never stop being a believer in the necessity of a vital and present union. Please allow me the privilege to represent you in an official capacity as we work together towards our goals.
My name is Elektra Sipars and I am running for the office of Instructional Vice President for North Hudson Center. I have been a teacher in our district for 13 years and during this time I have served on countless committees and have been someone colleagues have been able to look to for help and support.
As your current Instructional Vice President, and previous Corresponding Secretary, I have served you as an Executive Board officer for 5 years. In that time I have taken on many projects and responsibilities some of which include a Pride Project, Chair for the Constitution rewrite, Chair for the Negotiations Committee, and I led focus groups for members about our negotiations. I have often communicated with the members about various issues (union and non union related) and legislative issues during my time in these roles – all with the purpose of creating an informed membership and a transparent union. I have worked hard over these past 5 years to be someone who is approachable, someone who disseminates information to the members in a timely manner, and someone who listens to your concerns and questions. As an Executive Board member I have looked after the interests of all members and have ensured that the decisions we make as an Executive Board are fair to everyone.
I request your vote in this election because I want to continue to represent you, to communicate with you and to continue to elevate your trust in our Union because I believe together we can do much more than divided. My goals as your Vice President are largely based on creating a stronger more unified HCAVTEA resulting in the best working environment possible for all of our members.
Thank you so much for considering me.
JCC Non-Instructional Vice President
No statements yet.
NHC Non-Instructional Vice President
No statements yet.
I have been a mathematics teacher at County Prep High School for the past 20 years, with a total of 24 years of teaching experience. I have considered running for a union position many times, but I thought I did not have the time. I do not want to make that excuse anymore. I want to dedicate time to keeping the members of our union informed of the various resources available, such as professional development and political action. As Treasurer, I would make sure that any needed funds would be made available in a timely manner.
As someone who loves math, I think I possess the skills needed to be a good Treasurer. I am familiar with several software programs that could be used to organize and track funds. I would be efficient in keeping the Executive Board informed of our financial status, and would provide the membership with our financial information, where appropriate.
I have also had experience in this role elsewhere. I served as Treasurer for my son’s baseball travel team. My responsibilities and duties included collecting and disbursing funds when necessary, creating a budget, and reporting the financial state of the organization to the board. I would like to continue these services for our union.
“Trust your cash with Frank Ashe!”
Fellow HCST union members, my name is Tony Gongora and I would like to be considered for the position of Union Treasurer. For those who do not know me, I am currently a math teacher at High Tech and have been with the district for 10 years teaching both Math and Personal Finance.
A few reasons why I would be a good choice to represent you as your Treasurer. First, I have a strong math and finance background having taught both classes across many different programs in the district. I will fully commit to attending all meetings and training in order to best represent you. I have an orderly mind, a methodical way of thinking, and have a great attention to detail that will help in this role. I also have great communication and interpersonal skills in order to present information to the Executive Board and to the members as needed.
I also have had business experience in my previous career of managing restaurants. In this job I was responsible for all of the financial transactions that were needed to keep the business running from week to week. This, along with my background in mathematics and any training seminars that I will attend, should prepare me to serve as Treasurer.
Thank you for considering me.
Let me first begin by saying how excited I am to run for Recording Secretary for the HCATVEA. My name is Melissa Cruz and I have been a mathematics teacher at High Tech High School for the last four years. On a personal level, I am recently married to my husband who is also a teacher and I am pursuing another master’s in Educational Leadership come this fall.
I am running for this position for numerous reasons. First, the educational system as a whole has always infatuated me. I have continued to stay in school and take courses since graduating because I am thoroughly interested in all levels of our educational system. I am dedicated to making the most positive work environment for my students and my peers. Second, as a young teacher, I read many articles in the news about the future of teachers in New Jersey. I hope to get more involved with the union, beginning at the local level, to learn more and to make more of an impact on my future in this career path.
I hope to help continue the good work our union has been doing to make our organization stronger. As Recording Secretary, I hope to provide transparent, accurate, and timely minutes to the members of our union. I hope to be a recognizable and welcoming face for colleagues to feel comfortable coming to for information. As I’m sure many of my students and peers can attest to, I am extremely organized and work in a timely manner. Something I pride myself on, is the diligence I pay to my responsibilities. I hope to have the opportunity to act as your Recording Secretary. Thank you for your time and consideration thus far.
My name is Chelsea Walker and I have been an English teacher at High Tech High School since 2015. I come from a family of teachers and union leaders which has made education a passion of mine, particularly at High Tech, as I’m also a proud member of the class of 2004.
I previously worked for an education advocacy nonprofit in Washington DC where I was tasked with growing, engaging, listening to, and activating members in order to promote our agenda on Capitol Hill. To accomplish this I wrote and distributed regular correspondences, newsletters and blog posts, and organized membership meetings. With this experience, I honed my skills conveying clear messaging to unite people, just as is required by the position of the Corresponding Secretary.
I returned to HCST because I learned years ago that there is something special about the work that is done here, but we the workers need to be engaged more if we are to maintain what is special in the long term. It would be a great honor to serve our union by keeping our members informed and in turn strengthening our voice.
Sergeant at Arms
No statements yet.
JCC Instructional Representative (2)
I have been a public school teacher for 28 years, 26 of these at County Prep High School. My union involvement has been on the increase in the past two years since I started serving as Legislative Action Team Chair for HCAVTEA. For this position, I have attended all the Hudson County Legislative Action Team meetings and have brought information about county and state policies and politics back to the district.
At the same time, I also started serving as an elected member to the NJEA Delegate Assembly, representing Hudson County. This position has involved attending numerous state NJEA meetings each year. The Delegate Assembly is part of the governance of the NJEA and is the elected body that makes decisions about how the NJEA is run on the state level and what tasks the NJEA will take on as a whole. We research, discuss, and vote on policy positions, workplace conditions, curricular changes, and political strategies for the state NJEA. For the past year I have also been a member of the Constitution Review Committee of the NJEA, which has one representative per county. This has involved numerous meetings in Trenton to review the NJEA Constitution and By-Laws, which are currently under revision and which will be voted on by the entirety of the NJEA membership, hopefully in the upcoming year.
My position on the Delegate Assembly also confers on me a position with the Hudson County Education Association Executive Board. I have worked with the HCEA over the past two years on creating Professional Development opportunities for members, creating a county calendar, and attending county meetings related to Government Relations and the PAC.
In these positions, over the past two years I have attended two overnight Summer Leadership Training programs and two Hudson County Overnight Retreats. I have also attended the NJEA Convention for many years, at which I have spoken publicly to the NJ Board of Education members who attend about curriculum and standardized testing. The picture features me at the convention in 2017 with a poster of me addressing the NJBOE from the previous year.
NHC Instructional Representative (2)
No statements yet.
EMS Instructional Representative (1)
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JCC Non-Instructional Representative (2)
My name is Erika Calderon, I work for HCST- Technology Dept. since 2011. I have been support teachers, students and staffs with their technology classrooms and personal devices for the past 8 years. Technology enables new directions that extend globally and beyond our district boundaries for this reason I am running for JCC Non-Instructional Representative Council to continuing to promote and upgrade the use of technology for teachers’ classrooms, student learning and provide technology training for staff.
Thank you for the opportunity in this position and your consideration.
NHC Non-Instructional Representative (2)
No statements yet.