Opening Speech

Good evening. My name is Justin Manley and I have been a resident of Metuchen for 32 years. I currently reside at 33 Concord Ave. with my wife, the former Suzi Angus and our 3 children Alexa who is in 11th grade, Jared who is in 9th and Jacob who is in 5th grade. Let me first thank the Metuchen Parent Council for hosting this event and our moderators and timers for volunteering to be a part of it. I’d also like to thank those of you in attendance and those watching at home for taking the time to learn more about each of us vying for the 3 open positions. Finally I’d like to thank Merrill, Aileen and Joanne for volunteering to serve our community. No matter the results of the election I am comforted knowing our future will be in good hands.

When Suzi and I graduated from this school 25 years ago our class size was 133. Franklin School had just been closed down and the leaders of our community expected the downward trend of school age children to persist at these new normal levels. But as our planners sought ways to improve our town and replace old industrial complexes and that empty school with new housing, our borough began a slow rebirth. Today that rebound continues. We can see the evidence of the investments in our community on every corner whether it’s looking at the greater downtown area or the houses being updated and beautified to then be filled with new growing families. Our property values have been on a quick rise for the last few years however with all this good news, comes new challenges.

As we sit here discussing our schools in 2015 the reality is we have grades in Edgar that approach 200 students. That’s 50% growth in 25 years. Our schools, while improved haven’t grown by 50%. We all know that there will be many new housing units downtown and while not all of these will lead to hundreds of new school aged children, there is no doubt our community is growing. Now is the time for us to have a conversation about how we are going to invest in our most treasured resource, the education of our future, of our children and our grandchildren.

Metuchenites unite in great joy to see our children succeed in whatever they pursue. We spend many hours volunteering, many dollars on lessons and equipment and much energy shuffling from event to event to support and cheer them on. We are unwavering and strong and do what is necessary to ensure we give to them as our parents did for us. I know my parents chose Metuchen for its school system and for that I am eternally grateful. Everything I am today; my family, my friends, my profession are a result of that choice. I stand before this community, volunteering to give back, to help lead us into a future where our children will continue to have access to the most modern equipment, with small classroom sizes where they get the dedicated attention they need to excel. Our town will only complete our 21st century renaissance with a concerted and coordinated effort by all to never allow complacency and good enough to be the best we can do. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on these matters tonight and over the next month in hopes I may earn your vote on November 3rd. Thank you.

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