I’ve been asking Nicole to run for a long time. I know from working with her how much value she can bring to discussions about educational policy and the well-being of our children (more important now than ever). I serve on the Education Committee in the Rhode Island House and I find myself working with Nicole over and over as one of the people in my district who can help provide me with valuable perspectives on the issues we’re considering at the state level. I have no doubt that she’ll bring this ability to our School Committee.
One of the great things about our School Committee is that it’s made up of a group of very different individuals, each of whom brings their own perspectives to the issues our schools, children, parents, and community are facing. Nicole brings a perspective no one else on the committee brings. And from serving in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, I know how important that is. For example, I am currently the only mom with young kids in our whole House of Representatives – and sometimes, that’s made me a crucial voice on policy issues affecting families with young kids.
But the other thing Nicole brings is a knowledge about educational policy that’s both broad and deep. She’s nationally recognized as an expert. We’ll miss Dr. Lori McEwen, who similarly brought a long professional career of education expertise to our committee, but by adding Nicole, we’ll be adding another public servant who has spent a career thinking, learning, and practicing in the field.
And Nicole can hit the ground running. While she’s been working hard in her professional life to help Rhode Island children, and working hard as a mom to raise her own two young children, she’s also been working hard over a period of years contributing to our local school district as one of its leading community participants. She knows what our School Committee does, and has a strong and informed perspective on its work – both the many things it’s already doing well, and the opportunities that exist for it to do better.
From working with Nicole, I can say a few things. She’s going to bring toughness to the job. She’s an independent thinker. She is rigorous in her research and her tenacity to help kids is unparalleled. With the utmost admiration for her, I’ll say this: Nicole isn’t going to be your go-along-to-get-along vote on the School Committee. She is confident and assertive and she won’t hesitate to speak up for what’s best for our kids no matter what.
Nicole is also a natural leader. It’s easy to see she’s a natural leader because she has what all leaders have – followers. There are parents all over our community who have looked to Nicole for leadership, and Nicole has delivered, even given how busy she’s been given all her professional, community, and personal activities.
She’ll need the toughness I was talking about – because it can be tough to be a public servant in the increasingly partisan and online world we live in now. All the trolling and anger during electoral campaigns, particularly on social media, targeting people who run, targeting their families – I can tell you, it has no impact on elections. It’s not helping your candidate win. People aren’t changing their votes or their willingness to vote based on your comments.
But what it is doing is deterring good people from running for office. I think everyone knows I’m a big believer in new kinds of people running for office, in having a wider variety of people serving us at every level of government. But those people who would give us that variety – they read that stuff, the stuff being said about people who step up, and they’re saying, “I could never run, I would never subject myself and my family to this.” And there’s really no way to respond to that, because it’s true – it is terrible. I hope all of us in this community can lessen this hostility a little bit. It’s just making it harder for people to run and serve.
Given all of that, I’m thrilled that Nicole made the decision to run and offer herself to serve. She’s proven her ability to serve our community, and I can tell you her expertise has helped me serve our community better. Electing her to our School Committee will give her an even stronger ability to help us build a better future for our community and our kids. I hope she’ll earn your vote – either on Election Day, Oct. 5, at Swift Community Center (121 Peirce St.), or during early voting, weekdays, 8:30-4:30, at Town Hall (125 Main Street, in the Town Clerk’s office on the second floor).
Let’s not throw away our shot to get Nicole advocating for our kids every day; this election is important, your vote matters, and please join me in voting for Nicole Bucka for East Greenwich School Committee.
Justine Caldwell represents House Dist. 30 (EG, WG). She lives in East Greenwich.