On April 2, we citizens of Manhattan have a prime opportunity to vote onto the City Commission and School Board some of the best candidates our town has to offer. To make it easy to remember, this is what I suggest: vote in all the women and one man, Aaron Estabrook.
Here are my reasons:
• We need gender balance to provide a better reflection of our community’s needs and generate more creative solutions to current and future problems. Fellow citizens, have you noticed how our commission and board have been lacking lately in reflecting our demo-graphics? We are not all older white men. Nothing against them; in fact, we in the Asian culture have a great deal of respect for our elders. But we deserve more balanced leadership team if we are to address current and future problems for our growing community.
•. The three women who are running for the commission are all proven community leaders who listen well and have responded to our needs, whether as an outstanding school teacher (voted by her peers) and hard-working community volunteer —Usha Reddi; a proven excellent commissioner on both the county and city commissions — Karen McCulloh; and another steady hard-working community leader and volunteer on numerous boards and committees — Debbie Nuss. All three of these women, if voted onto the City Commission, would serve our community very well.
• As for the School Board: Pat Hudgins has served on every PTA,PTO and site council from grade school through middle school and high school, usually the president or as a leader. She understands our schools’ needs from both a micro and macro level. Aaron Estabrook is a bright young man who wants to serve our community and has already proven himself in service to our returning veterans and their families. Marcia Rozell also wants to serve our community and should be given that opportunity.
Given these excellent can-didates, many of whom have lived and served in our community for a very long time, why should we vote for those other candidates who appear to have an agenda or ideology already, who are not going to listen to us and who are offering the same old ideas that don’t work and in fact would harm our community’s high standards.
For example: two of our current commissioners, John Matta and Wynn Butler, vow to get a third vote to block the expansion of our public library, even after we citizens have donated a huge sum for it — $800,000 — led by fundraising chairs Coach Bill and Sharon Snyder.
As a child, I would take the bus — yes, we had public transit back in the day — with my friends and go to the Manhattan Public Library to get as many books as we could carry. That’s how I got my American education, reading through all those biographies on Jackie Robinson and all our great American heroes and heroines. So how could anyone oppose expanding library opportunities for children, disrespecting the wishes of the public, who have already put money down for this expansion?
Worse, how could anyone say no to Coach Bill and Sharon Snyder, especially after they led the success-ful efforts to renovate our crumbling schools into beautiful state-of-the-art-buildings? As one child at Lee School asked her prin-cipal, “Is this pretty building for me?” Yes, we citizens said, it is for you, and for future genera-tions of children in Manhattan.
Lastly, I want to point out that one of the candidates for the commission, Bob Strawn, be-lieves in a litmus test for other candidates: if you believe in the anti-discrimination ordinance, you should be kicked off of every board and commission.
April 2 is rapidly approaching, and we can advance vote by mail starting March 13 and in person on March 25. So, fellow citizens, keep it simple: bring a friend and vote for all the women and Aaron.
Grace Y. Hwang lives at 3453 Gary Ave.