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'It is a New Day in Parsippany' As Change Comes to Board of Education

Budget narrowly passes; ticket of Shamsudin, Golderer and Martin unseats incumbent Choffo.

Provisional ballots must still be counted, but as of now, it appears voters have chosen Sharif Shamsudin, Susy Golderer and Gary Martin in Wednesday's school election to serve on the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education. The $129.8 million school budget for 2011-12 won approval by a slim margin.

Golderer came in first after the final tally, including absentee ballots, with 3,004 votes, according to Town Clerk Judy Silver. Shamsudin followed with 2,727 and Martin came in third with 2,465 votes.

In the budget ballot, 2,667 votes in favor were cast versus 2,525 votes opposed.

Unseated incumbent Andrew Choffo, who tallied 1,020 votes and came in sixth place, was gracious in defeat.

"I was mentally prepared for this," he said after the final numbers of the night were released. "People had a strong desire for change. Plus, there is an anti-incumbent sentiment all over the country right now. The people have spoken, and I accept that."

School Superintendent LeRoy Seitz, whose controversial contract helped fuel citizens' call for change on the BOE, said he was grateful that Parsippany residents supported the budget.

"This will enable us to continue the quality programs we offer and provide students an education that will serve them now and in the future," he said.

The vote totals, pending the addition of provisional ballots, are as follows:

Susy Golderer 3,004 Sharif Shamsudin 2,727 Gary Martin 2,465 Alison Cogan 2,143 Carol Trapp 1,154 Andrew Choffo 1,020 Joseph Raich    785 Richard Gerstl    397 John Harrison    379

Asked what his first act will be as a board member, an elated Shamsudin said, "The voters said they want change. The first thing I'll do is work to change the leadership of the Board of Education."

He chalked up his ticket's victory to hard work. 

"We knocked on doors and spent election day making phone calls to get people to the polls," he said. "We listened to what the voters want because what they have to say is important. It is a new day in Parsippany. The people will have a voice. Change has come." 

The Board of Education reorganization meeting takes place Thursday, May 5 in the Parsippany High School auditorium at 7 p.m.

steve revette May 04, 2011 at 01:28 PM
The fact of the matter is we do not elect the board president the board does. Yes I doubt that Mancuso will be elected again but the board may elect Mrs. Orme or Dr. Calabria or Mr. Neglia. I have known one board member a very long time. This individual has told that they would do things differently then Mancuso would. This individual has always been honest and straight with me so there is no doubt in my mind they were telling the truth.
Monica Sclafani May 04, 2011 at 08:18 PM
Oh, Mr. Heller, enough with the histrionics - "You/he will not be allowed to hijack our BOE again without paying a fearsome price." - what are you going to do, hold a gun to their heads until you/they have it your way? I happen to have the same concerns as Ellen. I've stated some of those same concerns both here and at Board meetings. Mr. Strumolo is not fit to be board president. Can you, at the very least, address the concerns stated above instead of ranting on and on about Mr. Mancuso and the rest of this Board? Can you refrain from the name calling for just a moment and make a valid case as to why you think Mr. Strumolo should hold the position? The subject is moot anyway; the Board elects their own president, not the public.
Nancy May 04, 2011 at 09:16 PM
The truth is that Strumolo has fallen asleep at board meetings. Sometimes you would hear him snoring. His has taken cell phone calls during the meetings. Last summer he was dress so poorly that if he was a high school student he would have been sent home for violating the dress code policy. He has a record of voting no on the entire superintendent bulletin regardless of what it includes. Don't be a fool he is not in this for the children. He is our worst nightmare A TYPICAL POLITICIAN. Hank are you in his pockets too!
Hank Heller May 04, 2011 at 09:55 PM
"nancy" You sound so much like "ellen". Are you one and the same or do you just attempt to insult people in the same childish manner? Mr. Strumolo runs a 24 hour business. If he has a real business need to check his cell phone messages, what is wrong with that? And if he has a business need to accept a call because he has a business emergency, what is wrong with that? Much of his business has to do with car wrecks and police calls. I have seen other members of the BOE check their Blackberry's, but no one seems to have noticed. Regarding "snoring", I have been to most of the BOE meetings since 11/10 and I have not seen anyone snoring. Yes, he did stop voting for the superintendent's bulletin, but he had a reason for that. You should ask him why he decided not to vote for the bulletin. If you don't like Strumolo that is your choice. I do like him because I believe he IS for the children, as evidenced by the fact that when he ran for BOE he was the highest vote-getter. And now, that Mancuso's team has been repudiated by the voters you want to attack him on baloney issues, not facts. Well, I'm not buying in to your junk. He may be YOUR worst nightmare. I would take 10 Strumolos before I would have 1 Mancuso. If you have some evidence of me being in anyone's pocket, I suggest you tell me that to my face, instead of hiding in the shadows. Hank Heller
steve revette May 04, 2011 at 10:04 PM
Man when I asked who you thought would be board president I did not really think it would cause so much turmoil. The fact of the matter is I think Mr. Strumolo has to much going on with his life to be board president. Some people are just not cut out for the job. I get angry very easily so if I was on the board being President would not be good for me. So from the looks there will be controversy if Mr. Mancuso or Mr. Strumolo are President. So that we can start off this year on a high note I want somebody other then one of them two to be board president.
Hank Heller May 04, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Mrs. Sclafani I did not say that Mr. Strumolo should hold the position of President of the BOE. I do say that if he did, he would be a good President because I have found him to be smart, courageous and caring of the students and the taxpayers. I have not found Mancuso, Neglia, Orme nor Calabria to care about the taxpayers at all. None of those mentioned above did anything to stop Mancuso from abusing the taxpaying public who attended many of the meetings. None of them stopped Mancuso from changing the rules of speech during the past 6 months. None of them stopped Mancuso from forcing committee participation and withdrawal from being the sole pervue of the Board President. None of them ever suggested a meeting to discuss the views of the voting public before immediately imposing their decision on Board direction. Only Crawford and Strumolo stood up for the students and the taxpayers. That is why I strongly believe that neither Neglia, Orm nor Calabria are fit to be the next BOE President. My comment about Board selection is only because I believe that since the Mancuso supporters of the past are not at all likely to grow character and courage in only the space of a week or two. I believe they will disappoint the voters again and again. Seitz and Wendolowski seems to have held them all in thrall. The people of Parsippany need and deserve new leadership that has shown courage. If you don't like Strumolo's dress at least say that, not baloney. Hank Heller
Matt Clarkin May 04, 2011 at 10:39 PM
I also don't think Mr. Strumolo would make a good BOE president, at least not in my view of things. Finding out why he votes against the Superintendent's budget (can you share that, Mr. Heller? I'm pretty curious) might change my mind, but I wasn't a big fan of his candidates, which by proxy makes me not such a big fan of him. That being said, I don't know who else I'd want to be in the position; I completely disagreed with the Seitz contract and way it was handled, so Mancuso, Orme, Neglia and Calabria are out; I'm not a big fan of the new members (not to mention a first year probably isn't a good choice for President), so Golderer, Martin and Shamsudin are out. That leaves Orthwein, who I guess will be casting the deciding vote. As has been said, this discussion is moot since it isn't up to us, but it is something to wonder about.
Hank Heller May 04, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Matt Your analysis is fair except that I think you will be very surprised by some of "Mr. Strumolo's candidates". I have gotten to know them a little, and I am more pleased as time goes on. Regarding Mike Strumolo, let me say this. I never knew him berfore the BOE debacle except for a meeting I had with him about 10 years ago. He works very hard in a cold, dank and unforgiving business. Yes, he has more hair on his face than many would find inviting. Yes, he has mostly come to meetings straight from work in "rough" clothes. But he has come to fight for the benefit of our kids and our taxpayers. He does not make a salary. He earns whatever he does by the sweat of his brow. Matt, you are a young man and I am far from that, but I offer you a thought for the night...God save me from reluctant warriors. Strumolo is not my neighbor nor cousin, but he is a warrior fighting for what HE believes is right. I will take that type of representative anytime over the Savile Row dressed employee who neither risks much nor stands up much for the sake of his/her constituents. Mancuso sold us all out to Seitz and Wendolowski. Neglia, Orme, Calabria and Choffo were his rubber-stamps. Choffo has paid the price. Neglia, Orme are next, I think. Whomever follows Mancuso's pattern will pay the price because you, me and most of the other voters of Parsippany are not willing to lay down and close our eyes anymore. Hank Heller
Matt Clarkin May 04, 2011 at 11:34 PM
I hope you don't think I meant "Mr. Strumolo's candidates" in a negative way; I meant it as, well, more of a declarative statement than anything. No negative connotation intended. I hope they do surprise me, since the BOE succeeding means the students succeeding and the taxpayers happy.
Monica Sclafani May 04, 2011 at 11:59 PM
I did ask Mr. Strumolo after a Board meeting why he continued to vote no on the entire Superintendent's Bulletin. His comment was that he "did not like the way things were being run". He then walked away and would not enter into further discussion. Now, if you don't like the way things are being run, you're entitled to your opinion, but I would say that voting no to gifts to the district, field trips for our students and maternity leaves has very little to do with the way "things are being run" and serves no purpose. I propose that if one is looking to make a statement, perhaps one should let everyone else in on what that statement is.
Hank Heller May 05, 2011 at 01:27 AM
No, Matt, I did not take your comment negatively. I am respectful of your comments. I think that some of our neighbors lay disrespect on Strumolo because he is a "working man" and not an "executive". In fact, my respect for Strumolo is based upon what I believe is really important. He owns his own business for many years. He pays taxes and employs local people who respect him. He does well when he puts energy and thinking into his business opportunities and challenges. That is the American way. If you think back, Abraham Lincoln also had hair on his face and came from a "rough-hewn" background. And many of our early citizens had much to say about his less than elegant presentation. Yet, today, Lincoln is often thought to have been our most effective President. As a young person, I am just suggesting to you that you look at the whole man, not just the exterior. I have looked at the whole man, and I think we are lucky to have him. If you want more clarity as to what I mean, you can email me at hnhone@aol.com. Frankly, I do not care if Strumolo is made BOE President. I do care, hugely, if Neglia, Orme or Calabria is anointed BOE President. Regarding Othwein, I am uncertain about her, since she swayed in a very wishy-washy fashion on the issues that I thought were really important. I am eager to support people of character and courage. Among the "older" members of the BOE, we do not have much to choose from, with the exception of Mike Strumolo. Hank Heller
Nancy May 05, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Hank, Are you really that ignorant to think that I am Ellen because I also disagree with your rhetoric? I don't know her but I do agree with some of what she has written. If Strumolo cared about the education of our children then he should take the time to read the bulletin. A good board member should put his personal agendas to the side and make clean and sound judgements. Really you are labeling Strumolo a "working man"! He owns the station. I am sure many of his customers pay cash. Cash tells no tales right! Many people work hard in many types of employment. I don't judge a book by it's cover but I have talked to him. He is rude and abnoxious. According to what you write, you are judging the other board members for the careers that they have chosen regardless of how hard they had to work to get where they are today.
Hank Heller May 05, 2011 at 11:36 AM
"nancy" You say that Strumolo has not read the bulletin. I do not know that. Please don't tell me about "good board members". I have seen what "good board members" have done over the past few years to the taxpayers of Parsippany. They enriched Wendolowski's retirement substantially and got repaid for their "goodness" by having her retire the next year. They have now done the same for Seitz. Their "goodness" has given Seitz over $700K in extra retirement funds at OUR expense. And you, "ellen" and Mrs. Sclafani want to establish that Strumolo is the bad guy here? You are entitled to your opinion. Your agenda is to smear Strumolo. Whatever is said in his favor, for whatever reason, is unacceptable to you. "He owns the station..,Cash tells no tales..." YOU are unfair. If you want to make baseless accusations at least have the character to write your name on your comment. I know you and "ellen" will never do that. It is much easier to anonymously throw dirt on people and take no personal risks. My comment about his work is only to show why his dress may be different than others on the BOE. Dress tells nothing about character and content. Only action does. If you think he is "rude and abnoxious" don't vote for him. I have found him to be the most straightforward of the current "old" BOE members. It is interesting that he has the highest positive VOTER response as shown by the fact that Martin, Golderer and Shamsudin CREAMED Mancuso's candidates. Hank Heller
Monica Sclafani May 05, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Mr. Heller - "Your agenda is to smear Strumolo." How is anything that Ellen or I have said an agenda to smear Strumolo? We have said nothing but the truth which can be backed up if you choose to listen to the tapes of the BOE meetings. Actually, you were probably at those meetings - not quite sure how you could have missed this... "Whatever is said in his favor, for whatever reason, is unacceptable to you." And you have such tolerance for opposing viewpoints? Kind of like the "pot and the kettle", don't you think? And please stop with this "Ellen" and "Nancy" thing - it's funny how when you addressed Parsippany Parent on another stream that his/her name was not in quotes - oh, but then whoever "Parsippany Parent" is agreed with your point of view.....
Hank Heller May 05, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Mrs. Sclafani I have cut and pasted "ellen"s", "nancy's" and your comments all written above. If this is not smearing, I have no idea what is! “ellen” "I am curious if you think "a good leader" answers his cell phone ... meetings? Comes without reading his packet? Votes no to donations....PTAs? Doesn't know the correct way to make motion? Rants on and on about an issue and when asked to make a motion to get the change he wants, he backs down and drops the issue (until the next meeting of course)? Attacks based on personal feelings instead of good business for the board?" Mrs. Sclafani "Mr. Strumolo is not fit to be board president" “nancy” "The truth is that Strumolo has fallen asleep at board meetings. Sometimes you would hear him snoring. His has taken cell phone calls during the meetings. Last summer he was dress so poorly that if he was a high school student he would have been sent home for violating the dress code policy. He has a record of voting no on the entire superintendent bulletin regardless of what it includes. Don't be a fool he is not in this for the children. He is our worst nightmare A TYPICAL POLITICIAN. Hank are you in his pockets too!" “nancy” "Really you are labeling Strumolo a "working man"! He owns the station. I am sure many of his customers pay cash. Cash tells no tales right! Many people work hard in many types of employment. I don't judge a book by it's cover but I have talked to him. He is rude and abnoxious." Hank Heller
Monica Sclafani May 05, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Mr. Heller ~ First of all, my reference was to the comments that Ellen made. I do not think that telling the truth about someone is "smearing" their name, especially when those truths are based on fact. And, yes, based on those truths, I do not think he would be a good board president. My only reference to Nancy was with regard to your putting her and Ellen's names in quotes all the time but not doing the same to someone (Parsippany Parent) who agrees with your viewpoint. If you want to talk "smear" campaign, what do you call what you have been doing to Mr. Mancuso, Mr. Choffo and the rest of the sitting Board members? It would take pages and pages for me to cut and paste the derogatory remarks you have made! Again, "pot and kettle" seem to be a recurring theme here!
steve revette May 05, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Hey is the parsippany audiotrium located near the gym? It is been a long time since Ive been there and do not want to get lost.
Hank Heller May 05, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Mrs. Sclafani, Everything that I have written about Mancuso, Choffo, Neglia, Orme and Calabria are fact. Do we need to go through Mancuso's behavior toward the voters again? Do we need to argue that the other 4 did or did not rubber-stamp each of Mancuso's actions? Regarding a smear of Mancuso, please mention ONE exaggeration that I have made. C'mon, this is silly, especially in light of the recent BOE vote. The people saw, heard and spoke. Why are we still arguing this nonsense? If you want to vote Strumolo off the BOE, do it! If you want to recall him, do it! I do not believe that Neglia or Orme will be able to return to the BOE after their terms are up. I believe that Strumolo will be able to return for as long as his strength holds out. Time will tell the story on all of this. Regarding "ellen" and "nancy" and Parsippany Parent, here you are finally right! I respect what Parsippany Parent had to say and I disrespect the partisan approach of the forementioned. Sorry to have to say, my pot is fairly clean and your kettle is fairly black, based upon who and what you have been supporting. BTW, I don't care that you dislike Strumolo and Crawford. I don't even care that you constantly whitewash Mancuso and friends through all their transgressions. You support blindly whatever they do and you fight against any who see things differently. We might have similar illnesses escept that I do not support ANYTHING blindly. See you tonight!;-) Hank Heller
momo May 05, 2011 at 09:38 PM
The auditorium is located on the opposite end of the building from the gym. Enter from Vail Rd. and the doors face the parking lot on that side of the building.
QUIN ROSAMILIA May 05, 2011 at 09:42 PM
The BOE meets soon, I know nothing I or anyone can say will sway a vote one way or the other but,as Mr. Heller has stated, >"DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER"< I've known Mr. Strumolo longer than most people in this town. Yes he is a personal friend of mine, and as long as I've known him I know everyday he gets up puts his boots on and ties them tight, because he knows he's in for a tough day. He is not one to back down from a problem. he'll face it head on and come up with some answers. I've asked him many times, Mike, why the Hell do you do it, He answered me very simply , Quin, because someone has too. Stand up for the kids education and try to stop this pissing away of monies that can be better used for their education.He's been a Student Advisor for many years in the school system hiring many young people to work for him in the Job Studies program. He doesn't live in a lollipop world thinking Mommy & Daddy are going to foot the bill and make sure Johnny & Susie have the best of everything. All kids aren't cut out to be Doctors & Lawyers, with lilly white clean hands. He has taken many kids on and trained them and toughened them up for the REAL WORLD He will step up to this job becuase he feels there is no one willing to go toe to toe with the rest of the BOE. He is concerned for the future of these kids. Mike Strumolo my friend!
Hank Heller May 05, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Quin, I have only met you a few times, but one day I hope to earn the right to call you "friend" too. What you have just written about Mike Strumolo is a much better accolade than I could possibly have written. I am glad that my instincts about people coincide with your personal experience of many years. Mike Strumolo is a lucky man to have earned your respect. He has earned mine too. Hank
CAZ May 05, 2011 at 11:46 PM
I do not find Mr. Strumolo "rude & obnoxious". After speaking with him on occasion he seems straightforward, sincere, and a man of good strong morals. I have to agree with Mr. Heller lambasting Mr. Stumolo is quite evident in what I have read in the above comments. I do believe Mr. Heller has his facts straight when mentioning the likes of Mancuso, Choffo, Neglia, Orme, & Calabria. No one can fight these facts. The taxpayers of PT are not idiots. Even though I have seen many of them treated that way at BOE meetings run by Mr. Mancuso.
Nancy May 06, 2011 at 02:04 AM
It is so obvious that Hank Heller is a hypocrite. He only see his side and is shortsighted. He has nothing to lose. He has no children in the schools. His only interest is to watch his wallet. The parents better step up and pay attention to what this BOE's new agenda might be. I can only hope that Dr. Calabria can keep our children as well educated as Mr Mancuso has. I fully trust Dr. Calabria to do his very best for our children. He is a kind and honest gentleman.
steve revette May 06, 2011 at 02:07 AM
Yes Dr. Calabria is a great guy. I also think his two vice presidents idea was also a good idea.
steve revette May 06, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Hank you should join that committee Mr. Strumolo was talking about. I am sure you are one of the people he had in mind.
Hank Heller May 06, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Steve, Thanks for your nice words. I don't know what Mr. Stumolo and Dr. Calabria had in mind. If this is a group selected by the various factions on a "one for you, one for me" basis, it will never work because meaningful and respectful change won't happen. We saw the effect of that process play out last night during the public portion of the meeting. Both contributors are good people, I believe, but if it is a game of "I throw my trump card on top of your trump card" forget change and forget progress. If it were a work group selected based upon intellect and honesty to really help solve the problems of the BOE it might have a chance to help the community come together. If the purpose is to put the public to "sleep" so the BOE can have peace while it continues on with somewhat milder methods than have been used in the recent past, it won't work. Dr. Calabria made a good beginning, based upon his self-effacing demeanor and basic "niceness". He, you and I know that that will only take us so far. He must know that 2 Vice Presidents are not a lawful answer to the current problem of leadership. He will have to make some hard and smart decisions soon. We cannot all be satisfied with just a kindly leader because the VOTERS have spoken so LOUDLY. If actions like the Seitz contract debacle where to occur again with Calabria "niceness" instead of Mancuso heavy-handedness, the result would still be the same. Rebellion by the voters, which is what we have. Hank Heller
Hank Heller May 06, 2011 at 03:02 PM
"nancy", I am starting to think that maybe you do not like me. Is that possible??? Your rationale for calling me a hypocrite is really silly, don't you think? Not having school age children means I do not have the right to an opinion? Is it only "young" people who should be able to vote in BOE elections? Or is it only people who believe and will vote as you do? Isn't just being a taxpaying citizen enough? If you want to debate the reasons why I urged people to vote against Andy in these blog pages, let's get together and discuss the issues. We can do it privately or publicly, I don't care. You call the shot; when, where and in what forum. The voters of Parsippany voted for the budget but declined to vote for the incumbent and other Mancuso supporters. Doesn't that tell you anything at all? You can attack me all you want if it makes you feel better. I wasn't running for office. The problem is that your attacks only make you look foolish. You ought to re-think your approach. Hank Heller
Nancy May 06, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Nothing so obstinately stands in the way of all sorts of progress as pride of opinion. While nothing is so foolish and baseless.
Leo Ballard May 06, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Nancy, you imply that the incoming board members are more concerned with their wallets than the educational system. I assume you mean less spending, less taxes. I have to think the trio is aware that any money-saving actions that weaken the school district would be terribly misguided in the long-term. A less desirable school system weakens home values which at the end of the day would hit everyone's finances a lot harder.
Nancy May 06, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Leo, I agree. I do not favor higher taxes on anyone. We pay far too much already. Our home values have already fallen in recent years. I believe that the BOE's policy of tax and spend has ended with the passing of a good budget this year.

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