David Sarnoff has been a Fort Lee resident for slightly more than 10 years; he has two children in the Fort Lee public school district, a third- and a fourth-grader, and he’s taken an active interest and regularly attended meetings since his kids started attending.
This week, Sarnoff, a partner and recruiter in an executive search firm focusing on the placement of attorneys, announced that he has filed a petition to run for a seat on the Board of Education, and he said he’s “in it,” whether the election takes place in April or November.
“I took an interest in the Board of Ed once my children started attending Fort Lee public schools and started attending BOE meetings on a regular basis about four years ago,” Sarnoff said of his decision to run for a seat on the board. “Over time, as I got more familiar with the issues and saw what was being done at these meetings, I became interested in pursuing a seat on the board and felt I’ve come to a point where I have a good handle on the issues.”
Sarnoff said he believes he can “bring some energy and ideas” to the board that may not currently exist.
“I believe that Fort Lee public schools can be a great district and want to see some changes that will bring it to that level,” Sarnoff said.
Not wanting to simply jump in without first having a firm grasp on the issues the board deals with, Sarnoff made it his business to attend the meetings, review the agendas, read the resolutions and backup information and ask questions, he said, adding that he already has a main issue he’d like to address if he’s elected—“the implementation of a unified curriculum in our district, especially in the elementary schools.”
“Right now, a student in third grade in is not necessarily learning the same thing as a third-grader in ,” Sarnoff said. “And I’ve asked questions over the years about why this is the case and why it hasn’t changed, and it’s always seemed to be a work in progress but hasn’t been achieved and doesn’t seem like it’s close to being achieved.”
He added, “I believe that the curriculum issue should be one of the top focuses of the board, and if you attend the public meetings it doesn’t appear to be so.”
Public perception that the board perhaps hasn’t been “fully transparent on many issues,” is another focus Sarnoff identified.
“I feel that I’m someone who can be a consensus builder; someone who will listen to the public,” he said. “I’m someone who may not always agree with you, but I’ll be respectful of your position and still shake your hand. I believe there’s just too much of a one-way dialogue, and if I were to be elected to the board, that’s something I would like to change.”
As a former litigator, who’s argued motions before federal judges, Sarnoff said he’s prepared for the potential challenges of campaigning, debating and everything else a run for a seat on the BOE entails.
“I’m willing to put in the time and the effort and the energy because I think it is something that is very important for this town, especially at this point, with our overcrowding situation, and with the referendum passing and now needing to be implemented,” Sarnoff said. “And not just for my kids, but for all kids in Fort Lee. I think the school district should be a cornerstone of the community, and we have a lot of work to do on ours.”
A first-time candidate for the Board of Education or any public office, Sarnoff points to his experience “dealing with overhead issues, budgets and personnel,” albeit on a smaller scale than the board has to contend with.
“I also recognize the investments and benefits of having a strong school district and the needs of the kids, so I think I’m someone who can approach the issues from various angles and work with others to arrive at a reasonable resolution that is transparent and hopefully gain the trust of the public,” Sarnoff said. “It’s not something I wanted to do on a lark, so I took my time. I attended meetings for several years and got to the point where I feel I’d be able to contribute.”
Sarnoff, who’s been involved in the Fort Lee community in various ways since he’s been a resident of the borough, including coaching several youth sports teams, serving on the admission committee of his co-op, participating in PTA events and contributing to charitable events benefitting Fort Lee residents, is not a politician, nor does he have political aspirations beyond serving on the board. He said his primary reason for running is straightforward.
“Fort Lee has become my home, and I want to do my part to help it become a better town,” he said.
David Sarnoff attended Hofstra University, where he graduated cum laude. He completed a semester at the Roosevelt Study Center in the Netherlands, from which he received a certificate of study. He was also a Dean’s List student at Rutgers University School of Law. After practicing as an attorney for four years, Sarnoff went into recruiting, working for a company for five years. After that, he and two of his colleagues left to form their own company, Morandi, Taub & Sarnoff LLC, which is currently in its eighth year in business.
Running for the BOE
The deadline to file nominating petitions to run for seats on the Fort Lee Board of Education is Monday, Feb. 27, at 4 p.m.
If you’re considering running, you can pick up a “School Board Candidate Kit” at the school district office at 255 Whiteman St.
The election is currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 17.
No further information was available at the time of publication regarding whether other candidates have also filed to run; Patch will provide profiles of all willing candidates for the Fort Lee Board of Education when they announce or are announced by the district.