WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — At last it’s official: Joe McCallister of Washington Township was the top vote-getter in a field of 17 write-in candidates for a seat on the Westwood Regional Board of Education.
He received 87 of 130 votes cast, the Bergen County Board of Elections confirmed.
“Considering I had only two weeks to mount a write-in campaign, I'm both incredibly flattered and humbled at the turnout,” McCallister said.
“I think it speaks to the community's desire for some fresh perspective on the board,” he added.
McCallister learned of his win Monday after a long wait.
Provisional and absentee ballots had to be counted before his victory could be declared, he told Daily Voice.
At first McCallister was surprised to learn that no candidates were vying for the Washington Township seat vacated by long-time board member Charles Koch.
Then he felt compelled to run.
“I've always objected to uncontested elections in principle,” McCallister said. “I ended up as the vice president of my college dorm my freshman year because someone was running unopposed.”
The issue that compelled him to seek office is class size.
Both McCallister and his wife are teachers with a daughter in first grade and son who will be in kindergarten in the next few years.
“We’re concerned about the high numbers of students in the lower elementary classes,” he said. “As educators, we are acutely aware of the research that indicates a connection between lower class sizes and higher achievement, especially in the lower grades.”
But he’s not a one-issue board member, he insists.
McCallister wants to make sure teachers in the district are not trapped in the position of teaching to state-mandated standardized tests.
He also wants to see that data collected on student performances isn’t shelved, he said. He wants to see it applied to shape instruction.
Lastly, McCallister favors using technology as a means, not an end, in the classroom.