To the Editor:

Many of those who come across this letter will recognize me from my previous l etters regarding the proposed delay in Bridgewater-Raritan school start times that earned much warranted scrutiny last Winter. Though I write today not particularly about school start times, I do write regarding my support for John-Paul “JP” Levin’s candidacy for the Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education.

After founding STOP THE BOARD, a local organization that opposed the poorly considered and financially irresponsible demand to delay school start times, I had received a message from JP thanking me for the advocacy I had undertaken on behalf of my family and others who had been excluded from the school start time conversation. Not only was JP one of the first residents to offer his support to STOP THE BOARD, but even as it gained momentum, he continued to be a leading figure in the community, one who both questioned the board’s lack of transparency and provided pragmatic solutions.

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After an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request uncovered dozens of board emails that raised serious ethical questions about the process by which delayed start times were being considered, the board eventually capitulated to community requests for the creation of an independent committee that could review the start time-related evidence and deliver more responsible recommendations.

Despite the fact that this committee was never able to deliver its recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, JP has remained a vocal proponent of board transparency, accountability and responsibility.

As the debate over school start times demonstrated, the board is in desperate need of new leaders, ones who truly value the community’s input and who have the humility necessary to craft smart board policy, policy that puts students before special interests.

Of the four candidates running for the board’s two open seats, JP has the strongest history of this type of community leadership: he has been a member of the Somerset County Library Commission, Somerset-Morris County Chronic Disease Coalition and Bridgewater Economic Development Committee. Before moving back to his hometown of Bridgewater, JP was also a member of the Bound Brook Economic Development Advisory Committee, Bound Brook Planning Board and Bound Brook Borough Council.

Throughout these years of community leadership, JP has maintained an incredible record of advocating for what is right, even when it brings him criticism. Indeed, it is his uniquely independent voice that earned him rebuke from members of the Bridgewater chapter of Start School Later, Inc. (SSL), a national lobbying organization that spearheaded Bridgewater’s delayed start time effort.

In fact, when JP spoke publicly at board meetings in December/January to urge the board to proceed cautiously when considering a delay, many members of Bridgewater-SSL, Inc. led the effort to spread misinformation that seemed to discredit many of his arguments.
When JP spoke publicly at these board meetings in firm defense of his community, little did he know that the very organization that was attempting to discredit his arguments was led by an individual who was meeting privately with District decision-makers to intentionally mislead and deceive the public about the proposed delay.

Ironically, the leader of Bridgewater-SSL, Inc. is running against JP in this upcoming race.

Unlike a vote for the Bridgewater-SSL, Inc. candidate, a vote for JP is a vote for a longtime resident of Somerset County who has a strong history of transparent, accountable and responsible leadership. Unlike a vote for the Bridgewater-SSL, Inc. candidate, a vote for JP is a vote for an honest leader who will put students before special interests.

Perhaps most importantly though, unlike a vote for the Bridgewater-SSL, Inc. candidate, a vote for JP is a vote for someone you can trust, someone that no matter the circumstance or issue will take your call, respond to your email and listen to your position with an open mind and fair conscience.

JP Levin will have my vote in this election, and I hope he will have yours too.

For more information on JP and his campaign, you can visit his website at www.jplevin4boe.com or visit his Facebook page @jplevin4boe.

Sincerely,

Dennis Wieboldt
Bridgewater-Raritan High School, Class of 2019