Atlantic Highlands Herald invited each of the candidates for office to school boards and governing bodies in Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, Middletown and Sea Bright to respond to a series of questions about themselves to better inform our readers about their campaigns. The deadline for submission is Friday, October 22. We will post their responses individually and make them available in our Politics Section.
November 2, 2021 – General Election
Profile Date: October 22, 2021
Candidate Name: Kate Farley
Age (as of Election Day): 36
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Position Sought (term): Board of Education member (3 years)
Party Affiliation or Banner: Non-partisan election
Family: Husband, Rob and three children: William (7), Reagan (5) and Bridget (1.5). William and Reagan attend Nut Swamp Elementary.
Education: I have a BA in History from The College of New Jersey, where I graduated magna cum laude; and a Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University of Law, where I graduated magna cum laude
Occupation: Litigation attorney in-house at JPMorgan Chase.
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office: N/A
Why are you seeking office?
During the COVID-19 health crisis, the interests of school children were frequently put on the back burner. My mission is to make sure that the interests of children are always prioritized, regardless of what is going on in the world. Children need to be in school, consistently, in person, to truly learn. They have suffered incredible trauma with virtual learning the past two years, and I believe it is the district’s duty to make every effort to deliver a normal, safe, and reliable school experience for children. As a Board of Education member, I will always put the interests of children first when making decisions.
The two most important issue facing our (board, district, council, committee etc.) are _______, and ______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The two most important issues facing our district are learning loss/mental health issues in our children from the pandemic, and a decline in state aid drastically impacting our budget over the past few years. I intend to support programs that focus as much individualized attention on our students as possible, and offer children support both academically and emotionally. I will also advocate for revising the District’s quarantine policy to make sure healthy children are permitted to remain in school, giving them the consistency they need to regain losses they have suffered. Above all else, our children need to maintain in-person learning and get back to as normal an experience as possible for the sake of their educational development and mental health. As for the budget, I intend to look for ways to bring more money into the district by sending various service contracts out for bid to obtain competitive pricing and working with our state legislators to obtain more funding for Middletown. We also need to continue trimming fat anywhere it can be found, so long as it does not take away important programs and services from our children. This means, among other things, not using public funds for political rallies or other special interests unrelated to education that take away from our already limited funding.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
Middletown is a very large district with nearly 10,000 students and 16 school buildings. The key to successfully running a district of this size is adopting strategic, long-range planning for things like capital improvements, building maintenance, and technology. There must also be transparency between the administration, Board of Education, and the public. Further, we must ensure that the curriculum being delivered to our children is academically enriching and competitive, and not influenced by politics or special interest groups. I want to get back to basics and focus on providing the best possible education to the students of Middletown.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I have already demonstrated my ability to advocate for the children of Middletown during the pandemic. I founded the Middletown Parents for Full Time In Person School group, which grew to 1500 members. I drafted letters and petitions, organized rallies, and spoke at nearly every school board meeting. Though the battle was often draining, I remained steadfast in my dedication to ensuring that every child who wanted an in-person education last year received one, five full days a week. And I did not rest until those goals were accomplished. My experience last year is what motivated me to run for Board of Education. I realized that children needed a voice, and being a Board of Education member will allow me to better be that voice.
I know how to lead. In addition to my grassroots efforts in Middletown last year, I served as President of the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills from 2018-2019. The Junior League is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing women as civic leaders through volunteerism and community service. During my tenure, we donated over 400 Thanksgiving basket meals to deserving families in East Orange, and organized a Kids for Kids volunteer event which gave local children the opportunity to work on projects to help other children in the community. I also operated the organization with a balanced budget and found opportunities to save on overhead so we could dedicate our limited resources to our community work. My commitment to community and fiscal responsibility are both qualities that will enable me to successfully service as a member of the Middletown Board of Education.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am an active member of the Nut Swamp PTA and the Treasurer for Cub Scout Pack 205.