A new full-page ad in The Montclair Times today proclaims "Montclair Moms For Real Progresss Montclair," an ad signed by 115 Montclair mothers.
In a press release explaining the ad, the slate headed by mayoral candidate Karen Turner—whose children attend private school—says that "Montclair mothers make influence felt in politics with an unprecedented level of grassroots support for Real Progress Montclair candidates."
It notes that: "major public endorsement highlights Karen Turner's exceptional appeal to committed volunteer moms."
Some Montclair residents have reported to Montclair Patch that they've spotted women around town wearing buttons that say "PTA Moms For Karen Turner" although the slate insists that no PTA has endorsed—or is endorsing—any candidate.
And some residents have criticized the ad for implying that all PTA moms are for Turner.
In response, Larry Kopp, campaign manager for Real Progress Montclair, issued the following statement:
"Mothers and Moms in Montclair are joining our campaign in unprecedented numbers because they are inspired by our commitment to reform Montclair government and protect our public schools. They are also inspired by Karen Turner's campaign to become the first woman elected Mayor in Montclair's 118 year history. The Moms for Real Progress Montclair campaign has grown to over 130 women in this community who are intimately involved in their schools and their communities. Our ads and literature have followed all the appropriate guidelines of community based organizations. Our opponents who are either incumbents or being run by incumbent political machines represent the status quo and have no such initiative."
Members of the slate have made clear that the full-page ad was paid for by supporters of Turner and the other candidates.
In addition to the ad, the slate also has sent out an email blast to residents throughout Montclair earlier this week explaining the slate's position and introducing its candidates.
In full, Real Progress Montclair's press release said the following below:
Seeking to make their voices heard, their interests known, and their collective influence felt, a broad coalition of Montclair mothers have joined together to help Karen Turner become the second woman mayor in Montclair's 118-year history. With a volunteer staff consisting overwhelmingly of women, Real Progress Montclair (RPM) is engaging, energizing and empowering Montclair’s female voters at unprecedented levels. In Thursday's Montclair Times, over 100 women, who identify themselves as Montclair Moms, have taken out a full-page ad in support of Karen Turner for Mayor and the RPM slate.
The women are united in their desire to maintain excellence in education, take the tax burden off the public school students and the professionals who serve them, and elect a more strategic and innovative Township Council. In their view, only the RPM slate has articulated a clear understanding of the issues, a fiscally sound approach, and a commitment to Montclair's public schools that will have these women out in force in the municipal election on May 8th.
“It is the power of women, the power of Montclair Moms, and people like Karen Turner and LeeAnn Carlson, running for Councilor-At-Large, that will change the short-sighted, dangerous course we have been on and steer us in the right direction,” said RPM Campaign co-chair Sue Schuchinski Weintraub. “It is the voice of smart, well-informed, hard-working, dedicated women in our town that will be heard on May 8th."
Motivated by a common desire to see educational excellence, fiscal responsibility and community engagement at the top of the town’s priorities, many of Montclair’s most active and involved women leaders have become campaign volunteers.
Campaign co-chair and Glenfield School PTA president Sue Schuchinski Weintraub was inspired to get involved after “hearing Hillary Clinton speak a couple of years ago about the power of women to change the course of our nation” and realizing that “it's the same for our Montclair.”
“My mother was a teacher and social worker in the Montclair public schools, my siblings and I are graduates of the Montclair public schools, my four children attend the Montclair public schools, and I have served on numerous public school boards and committees and raised significant amounts of money for the schools through my volunteerism with MFEE, so there is nothing more important to me than the success of our public school system,” said Schuchinski Weintraub.
“I could only ever support a candidate for Mayor whom I believe, with all my heart, has the best interests of our public school students in mind. Karen Turner is an extraordinary woman, but doesn't assume she knows it all or that she has all the answers,” added Schuchinski Weintraub. “Karen has done her research and reached out to women in town, like myself, whom she knows devote themselves to the Montclair public schools. She has asked me and many others what we care about, what we are concerned about, what makes our schools great and what needs attention. We did not have to chase her to be heard, to be listened to. She engaged us in conversation. She is the epitome of what one wants from a local government representative. She wants to represent her constituents, not simply tell them what's good for them.”
Landscape Designer and longtime Montclair public school volunteer Sarah Vogel, who ran the GrowLab program at Nishuane and designed the gardens at Fortunato Field and Glenfield Middle School, agrees and feels that “as the mother of two daughters, it's critical to elect women to political office on every level” and supports Karen Turner “because of her commitment to fiscal responsibility.”
For local realtor and active PTA mom Sidney Simon, it is “obvious that Karen Turner is passionate about education for all children.” “I am especially excited about the RPM slate because they are not career politicians,” added Simon. “They are concerned residents and parents who want to see Montclair in a better place, and they are invested in making sure that we don't continue making unwise financial decisions that will only increase our debt.”
As a Montclair BOE budget subcommittee member, MFEE board member, Montclair Schools Rock! founder, and mother of two MHS students, Carol Ewertsen knows firsthand that “so much of what happens in Montclair gets done because of volunteerism” and says that one of the most outstanding volunteers she has ever worked with is RPM mayoral candidate Karen Turner. “Karen is an incredible community servant and a terrific leader with an inclusive approach who will involve all residents and stakeholders."
Mary Curtin Creaser, the mother of students in three Montclair public schools spanning Montclair High, Glenfield Middle and Nishuane Elementary schools, believes that voters should spare no effort to “look at a candidate's volunteer commitments and history of support for groups like MFEE or other organizations dedicated to children and education.”
“After researching all three mayoral candidates and slates and evaluating their analytical, financial, problem-solving and team-building skills, I have the most confidence in Karen Turner and her running mates as the candidates who are best able to team with others in all our wards and manage Montclair's resources so that our public schools thrive long term. Since I'm going to be an active part of the Montclair public school family until Graduation Day 2023, this long view is important to me,” said Curtin Creaser.
Volunteering for public schools has been a full time job and passion for Montclair mom Diane Walpole, who has served as a PTA president and MFEE board member, and first met Karen Turner while working on a tutoring project involving Montclair middle school students who needed academic support preparing for state testing. “Fourteen years ago, Karen wanted to make a difference and have a positive impact in the lives of the children in our community, so she rolled up her sleeves and did it,” Walpole said. “Karen has been a tireless advocate for children in Montclair ever since. She is 100% supportive of our magnet school system, and as a highly intelligent woman, she is well aware that our strong public school system is the backbone of our town. Karen is no-nonsense and hands on, and I look forward to her tackling the long standing, complex problems we are facing in Montclair and putting this town on the road to fiscal recovery.”
“This growing support from Montclair moms and school volunteers who are working to run our entire campaign is the most important testimonial that I could ever hope to receive,” said RPM mayoral candidate Karen Turner. “If I have the tremendous honor to serve as Montclair’s second woman mayor, I will work hard to restore confidence in local government by making education a top priority, and in partnership with the BOE, will rally the entire community behind specific and necessary steps to keep our schools great.”