Dear Friends and Neighbors,
My campaign for re-election to the Mount Vernon School Board has been underway for just over a week but I already feel a deep sense of gratitude for the warm welcome I have received as I have knocked on your doors to speak with you about the issues and great opportunities we have before us. Thank you!
Unfortunately, a negative campaign containing a great deal of false information and “spin” has been launched against me during the past week by sitting School Board President Lesly Zamor. As I have committed to you, I will never respond in kind to this type of behavior, but I will always take action to “set the record straight”.
- Why would Lesly Zamor oppose my candidacy? Here are the facts:
I have often opposed Mr. Zamor’s positions, especially when he has pushed for capital projects not funded in the “20/20 Vision” plan that impacts the annual school district budget. Specifically, I have not supported a number of landscaping and school beautification proposals he has made requiring funding that I felt should instead be applied to curriculum needs for the benefit of our children. Moreover, I have consistently urged caution and fiscal prudence at this early stage of plan implementation.
- During the past week, Mr. Zamor has sought to publicly diminish my contributions to School Board activities, characterizing them as having “organized a wellness day, backpack giveaways along with book fairs”. Here are the facts:
I was a thought leader throughout the development of the “20/20 Vision” plan for the future of Mount Vernon Schools, created the strategy to communicate it to the community and led the team that implemented the program. As Chair of the Communications Committee, I also led the team that hired the PR firm, reintroduced the Newsletter and upgraded the District Website.
In addition to chairing the Communications Committee, I serve as Co-Chair of the Budget Committee which has overseen three consecutive years of budget development resulting in zero percent tax levy increases. This is a virtually unprecedented accomplishment which is a tribute to the excellent work of the Committee, Assistant Superintendent for Business Ken Silver and the District’s dedicated administrative staff. Amazingly, Mr. Zamor has publicly stated that I have “proposed new tax increases on homeowners”. The fact is that I have been deeply involved in the development of these budgets and 100% supportive of the recommended zero percent tax levy increases.
In response to his demeaning comments about my community outreach activities, I can only say that I am proud of what we have accomplished. What Mr. Zamor describes as a “book fair” was a fundraising event in support of the Superintendent’s Reading Challenge… a key element of the early literacy initiative, which is a critical District priority. The event raised over $10K for the purchase of Nook digital readers for Mount Vernon School Children.
- Mr. Zamor has attempted to further diminish my role on the Board by suggesting that I lack the professional credentials to address the issues before us, publicly stating: “we need professionals with competency to fill key roles on the board of trustees”. Here’s a quick summary of my last three professional positions:
- CEO, Our 365 (formerly First Photo), a $ 100MM market leading in-hospital photography business based in St. Charles, Missouri employing over 4000 people.
- President, Marketing and Sales, PRIMEDIA, Inc., a $ 1.7B New York-based magazine and internet conglomerate.
- President, American Baby Group, a $90MM market leading baby magazine and television show business supporting the needs of new mothers.
My background as a business leader and marketer has provided me with a strong understanding of strategy development, budget management and the implementation of effective communications programs. These skills have contributed to our success over the past three years.
- Finally, Mr. Zamor has suggested that I have not consistently supported the efforts of our School Board Superintendent Dr. Kenneth D. Hamilton. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I have been an ardent supporter of Ken Hamilton and the plan developed under his leadership. Perhaps most important, I understand that we must now give Ken and his team the opportunity to successfully implement this plan without undue Board interference.
Lesly Zamor is the owner/operator of a landscape design company and has made positive contributions to the District through his efforts to beautify our schools. However, he has demonstrated little interest in the educational process and in advancing the best interests of our children. Moreover, his assertion that “The current school board leadership strongly recommends that the community support” three new candidates… that he has hand picked …is a blatant violation of New York State School Board Law 15:34 which prohibits sitting school board members from asserting political positions in their official capacities.
Lesly Zamor’s positions and actions are a stark contrast to the focus of my campaign, which is all about achieving the best educational outcomes for all of our children in Mount Vernon and maintaining a high standard of ethical behavior. This election truly is about what we value most.
Thank you for this opportunity to “set the record straight”. I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail.