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Letter: Thank You, Voters

On May 8, at the Westbury PTA Council’s meet the candidates forum, I went for a job interview. This interview was for one of life’s most important and challenging jobs; a job with no monetary compensation but one that entrusts an ordinary citizen with the responsibility to serve as a steward of your children’s academic futures and your hard earned tax dollars.

On May 15, taxpayers and parents “hired” me for this job, and I am truly humbled. Over the next three years, I will work diligently to stay connected to the parents and interested residents of our community and be very mindful that this role is indeed a privilege and not a right. I will conduct myself with the utmost integrity and comport myself in a manner befitting the title of trustee for Westbury’s Board of Education. Along the way, I will surely make mistakes. There may be times that we disagree. I assure you, however, that I will never lose sight of the important responsibility that you have entrusted to me and I do so with the firm commitment to always work for you.

It was only 28 days ago when I declared as a candidate alongside my running mate, Cosmas Bonaparte, Jr. In that time, we changed the dialogue from “we can’t” to “we must … and we will” as it relates to the need for academic improvements and overall fiscal discipline for Westbury schools. Cosmas is the embodiment of grace under pressure, and, through this process, we learned a great deal about the challenges and opportunities that Westbury faces as well as a great deal about ourselves. I hope that we haven’t heard the last of him. He is an exceptional human being in every way with an outstanding personal and professional background that could serve as inspiration for the very kids that attend Westbury schools today. It was an honor to begin this journey with him and I trust that we will continue to find opportunities to partner together again in the near future.

So now the work begins. With an historic 60 percent affirmative vote for the budget, the people of Westbury, New Cassel and Old Westbury have now been heard. Both public school and private school parents, those that own homes and others who rent, said they want to invest in our children’s futures. This investment will be in the charge of seven board members. And I will remember my supporter’s words and my campaign commitment to ensure that every decision I make will have one focus: How will it help improve academic opportunities for our children, and in turn, increase home values for our residents? However, even with this budget passing, we will still lose some talented teacher professionals, paraprofessionals and dedicated civil service staff, aides and maintenance personnel. Hence the reason this victory is still somewhat bittersweet.

I would like to congratulate Dr. Pless Dickerson for his victory and continued service. I would also like to thank Rocco Lanzilotta for his service as board trustee. He stood up to support the Westbury children while many others remained silent. He was a worthy opponent.

Finally, I want to thank my dedicated family and friends and the many “new friends” behind the scenes who provided advice, counsel and support. Many of you opened your homes and your hearts, walked me to your neighbors, put up signs and called your friends on my behalf. Many of you shared your personal stories with me and, in so doing, you constantly reminded me of how very important this role is. This was not my win. This is our win, because without you I couldn’t be where I am and it is you whom I serve. I am deeply honored, and will begin the work we started just a few short days ago and will work tirelessly to make you proud each day I am in your service. I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and for you. Thank you for your trust and your faith. Let’s make a difference in our children’s lives together.  

John Simpkins