VHS ’15 Grad Challenging Freschi For BOE Seat

By on July 14, 2017

Connor McCannConnor J. McCann, a 2015 graduate of Verona High School, has filed to run for a seat on the Verona Board of Education. There is one seat up for a vote this November, the one currently held by Lisa Freschi, who has also filed to run for re-election.

McCann will be a junior at Montclair State University this fall, majoring in political science. He joined the Verona Fire Department as an auxiliary member when he was 16 and became a full member when he turned 18. He joined the Verona Rescue Squad at 18 as well, obtained certification as an emergency medical technician and continues to serve on the squad. McCann, a lifelong Verona resident, also works part-time for Verona’s Department of Public Works.

“I’ve always wanted to serve the town,” says McCann. “I thought now might be a good time in the midst of my college years.” “The Board of Education is something that I think that I can make more of a difference in being a recent student,” he adds. “I have the inside knowledge about what the students need.”

As a recent VHS student, McCann took advantage of some of the curriculum changes made in Verona’s public schools in the last few years. By taking a jointly administered English class and an Advanced Placement class, he started MSU with six college credits already in hand. He was also one of the first students to participate in VHS’ senior program Capstone, by interning with Verona’s Fire Prevention Bureau. “I really like the idea of Capstone,” says McCann, “and the numbers show that the kids really like it too. It’s essentially a whole grade doing Capstone now.”

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While McCann says that there are “a lot of things” that the current BOE does right, he believes that he “can help them do even more things better.” “There is always the opportunity for expanded classes and different types of classes,” he says, particularly technical and trade classes. He believes that Verona should take greater advantage of the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools system. “It gives students a lot of hands-on experience that they can use out the workforce,” Mc Cann says. High school students “need to know that there are a large number of paths.”

McCann, who is now 20, says he prepared for his BOE campaign by attending Board meetings and reading up on things that are a matter of public record. He says that he would like to see more joint meetings between the Board and the Town Council, and see the revenue brought into Verona through its payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILOT) programs shared with the BOE. (Right now, 95% of PILOT revenue goes to the town government, 5% goes to county government and none goes to the BOE, which gets 50% of regular property tax payments.)

To get his campaign started, McCann has been talking to Verona’s youngest voters, in person and through a Facebook page. “I try to explain why I’m running, and why I think that they should get involved with the causes I’m going for.” One of those causes is voter participation. “Turnout has been low, and that’s something I’m trying to change. Our whole government system relies on voter participation. If you’re not voting, you’re not taking that active participation in the process.”

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Freschi, who beat four other candidates to win her seat in 2014, wishes her challenger well. “I’m looking forward to take all the experience that I’ve gained in my first term and applying it, if the voters place their confidence in me for a second term, to help keep the forward momentum. Much has been accomplished, but there’s always more work to be done.”

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