Tag Archive: Ed Potosnak

Beyond Voting

OK. So because of the quirky Electoral College, America just elected an unqualified, anti-environment bigot to be the Leader of the Free World. We’re stuck with him for four years – a tragic sequel to the generally successful and positive…
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Franklin Twp update: No, Ms. Stanley, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong

If you’ve been following the controversy over Franklin Township (Somerset) Board of Education President Ed Potosnak’s graduation speech last month, (Franklin Reporter here; Blue Jersey here, here, here; NJ.com here), you know that last night was the first board meeting after board member Patricia Stanley sent a letter to Ed, an openly gay man, and the rest of the board calling for his resignation because he dared to spend approximately 1:30 out of a seven and a half minute speech talking about how the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage-handed down that same day-affected his life.  

Erik Ransom’s speech last night: “I hope you’ll join us there, Ms. Stanley.”

Of all the warm and enlightened public comments I heard at last night’s Franklin Township School Board meeting, my favorite was from actor and playwright Erik Ransom. He was kind enough to send me his speech. The words are his. – Rosi

My name is Erik Ransom. I graduated from Franklin High School in 2000 and I am a gay man. Based on your comments, Ms. Stanley, I infer that you might deem that information too ‘intimate’ for public proclamation, but I strongly disagree. And so, I come here in protest of your bizarre, petty, anachronistic crusade against Mr. Potosnak, and to tell you a bit of the story that brought me here.

 

This is what happened when bigotry showed its face in Franklin Township.

“The days of shaming people because of their identity are gone.”

              – public comment, Franklin Twp. School Board

Not long ago, bigots and fearful people could use intimidation to force gay people to live their lives fully or partly in the closet, afraid to lose a job, a position, a friend, and sometimes unable simply to be themselves.

Last night we witnessed an outpouring of community respect for Franklin Twp School Board President Ed Potosnak, who came under attack from board colleague Pat Stanley for a pro-equality speech made to Franklin HS grads on the very day of the SCOTUS marriage decision. Clear in the speech is that Ed is gay. As dozens of people stood to speak at this meeting – for 90 minutes – several things became clear:

(1) Homophobes still wanting to bully gay people – be warned. Ms. Stanley was told in no uncertain terms that she was the one whose words were unacceptable, and she is the one who isolates herself.

(2) The anti-gays often have other unsavory tendencies. Turns out Stanley also voted against the district’s breakfast program, prompting a wave of scowls in the room.

(3) Franklin’s home to all kinds of people. And parents, local leaders and residents want kids to know that whoever they are will be met with acceptance and support. That includes board presidents.

Adding (4) Stanley keeps referring to Ed’s words as “a political speech” or turning graduation into “a political event.” In fact, the marriage decision is history now and the future for graduating students. Related, noonstar takes issue with what I wrote – my calling Ed’s a pro-equality speech – and the objection is thoughtful and worth reading.

Ed Potosnak is getting married in a few days. And what this community gave him last night is better and more life-affirming than anything anybody could give him wrapped into a box with pretty paper and ribbon. Love wins in Franklin Township. And now let me add mine. Congratulations, Ed. You deserved it.  

TONIGHT: Will there be splashback on the school board member trying to force out a gay colleague?

If the idea of a school board member trying to force the resignation of  her board president over a pro-equality speech seems ugly to you, then you want to know the board’s next public meeting is tonight:

Franklin Twp School Board meeting 7:30pm – Open to the public

Franklin High School – 500 Elizabeth Avenue, Somerset NJ

Cafeteria (Entrance is at back of HS)

Should be interesting. Several board members, plus students and parents, have spoken up for Board President Ed Potosnak. Far as I know, board member Pat Stanley is alone on the board in calling for his resignation. Stanley protests she’s “not anti-gay” but upset that Potosnak ‘hijacked” graduation and turned it into a political event.

I’ll be interested to hear what Stanley has to say. But I smell a bigot, digging herself in deeper, her discomfort with gay people showing despite words. Potosnak’s getting married in a few days. Stanley’s the only one who refused to sign a congratulations card organized by the board, and share a little cake. And she accused Potosnak of talking about his wedding to graduates (uh, he didn’t) and revealing “intimate” details (“intimate” – wow, nope). There were two applause breaks in Potosnak’s brief discussion of the Obergefell decision.

Who else will be there tonight? Garden State Equality, an essential player in the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights protecting school students of all kinds. Here we have a situation where students were witnesses to a situation they can consider may qualify as a kind of bullying.  In his speech, Potosnak said he hoped his students would go out and make the world “more just, more fair, safer and more equal”. For some of them, the first test may be tonight.  

No, Franklin Twp Board of Ed prez Ed Potosnak won’t resign because he dared mention he’s gay

Ed-PotosnakAfter a 7-minute graduation speech delivered at Franklin High School by Board of Education President Ed Potosnak, fellow board member Pat Stanley is calling for his resignation. It’s hard to walk away from her letter to Potosnak, copied to all board members and now made public, without concluding she outs herself as a raging homophobe who failed to grasp any substance in Potosnak’s well-received words because she got totally tripped up by the gay.

And no, he will not be resigning.

Nor, I suspect, will he be intimidated. I imagine Ms. Stanley would be a lot more comfortable if gay people – Potosnak is out gay and getting married in a few days – stayed in the closet and allowed people like her to try and shame them into silence. And I do not expect silence at the Franklin Board meeting tomorrow night. A public meeting:

School Board meeting 7:30pm Thursday – Open to the public

Franklin Township High School – 500 Elizabeth Avenue, Somerset NJ

Cafeteria (Entrance is at back of HS)

So, what did Stanley say? In her letter, she accused Potosnak of “hijacking” graduation:

“You presented very personal information regarding yourself and your intimate life which was just uncalled for in that venue.”



“(I)n my thirteen years in professional music and theatre, I have known many, many homosexual men. I still have friends who are professionals in the business. But they always behave like mature gentlemen and are truly considerate of other people.”

Wow. So some of your best friends are gay, huh. Let’s unpack this for a sec. There’s something almost antique about her language. It is an emphasis dah sex?  

Upendra Chivukula Running for Congress in CD7

The oddly-shaped congressional district that stretched across central Jersey has been without a Democrat ready and willing to challenge Rep. Leonard Lance since 2010 candidate Ed Potosnak abandoned campaign plans to take the helm at League of Conservation Voters – NJ.

And now we hear that Upendra Chivukula, who represents the 17th Legislative District in the NJ Assembly, is gearing up to run.

Just in time. Good luck to Assemblyman Chivukula.

He is Deputy Speaker in the Assembly, where he has served in the Assembly in the district stretching across Middlesex and Somerset for 10 years. He is an electrical engineer by education, and was council member then mayor of Franklin Twp. (Somerset) before his election to the Assembly.

Chivukula is first Indian-American elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in its history, and only the 4th Indian-American in the United States to be elected to state office.

Chivukula does not currently live in the congressional district.  

Resurrecting RGGI

Last summer, without consulting the legislature, following what he hoped would be a secret meeting with the notorious Koch Brothers climate change deniers, Governor Christie abruptly announced that he was withdrawing New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). 

RGGI is a cap-and-trade initiative started by New York Republican Governor George Pataki in 2003, with participation from several states in the Northeast. Its goal is to reduce the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere by imposing a small tax on carbon emissions. Polluters can purchase offsets at quarterly auctions, which would bring money into state coffers. That money is supposed to go to conservation and energy efficiency programs. 

In response to the Governor’s foolish and unilateral action, Senators Sweeney and Smith have introduced a bill (S1322) which requires New Jersey to participate in RGGI. 

Today, Senator Smith chaired the Environment and Energy Committee hearing, receiving testimony from advocates on both sides of the issue. 

There is a difference between New Jersey and some of the more backward states that cater to the Rick Santorums of the world. At least in today’s testimony, there were no witnesses who opposed the bill on the basis of climate change denial. Those opposing RGGI put forth what seem to be fallacious economic arguments on how RGGI will raise electric rates. The arguments were quickly shot down by RGGI advocates. 

Of particular interest was the testimony of a small businessman from Princeton who pointed out how RGGI actually creates jobs in the state – jobs that are desperately needed as our unemployment rate exceeds the national average. 

The bill passed the Senate committee unanimously, including the vote of the lone Republican present, Senator Kip Bateman. Once it passes the full legislature, we’ll wait to see if the Governor continues to put his national political ambitions ahead of the health of New Jerseyans and vetoes the bill, or if he does what is right and signs it.

Testimony video below the fold…

Blue Jersey Focus – Ed Potosnak

Ed Potosnak is a Central Jersey resident who at age 39 has already had a varied and distinguished career. He’s been a small business owner, school teacher, congressional fellow, congressional staffer, and a candidate for the House of Representatives.

Recently, he embarked on his next career move, having been named the Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. And although I’m disappointed that Ed is not going to represent the 7th District in Congress, his knowledge, passion, and personality are a perfect fit for this difficult job of protecting our fragile environment.

I was pleased to be able to visit Ed in the League’s Trenton office to learn more about his new and critically important job.



Ed Potosnak drops out of NJ-7 race

By email today, Ed Potosnak informed supporters of his 2010 & 2012 runs for Congress against GOP incumbent Leonard Lance that he is ending his run for the seat this year. Potosnak had, after congressional redistricting, a clear shot at the Democratic nomination after former Edison mayor Jun Choi was redistricted out of the newly reconfigured 7th CD. Lance benefitted in the newly drawn district, gaining a district more favorable to the Republican. Lance beat Potosnak 59-41% in 2010.

Potosnak will be taking a job as Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. Before he ran for Congress, Potosnak was a high school chemistry teacher. In 2007, he wAs selected for the highly competitive Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, which brought him to Washington, where he used his classroom experience to advise members of Congress on education policy. He received the Einstein fellowship twice, working in the DC office of Congressman Michael M. Honda, who is also a DNC Vice-Chair.

Below the fold, Potosnak’s message to supporters: