School Committee Candidates Make Pitch Harwich Annual Election on Tuesday

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH – Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday for the annual election, and while Select Board member Peter Piekarski will face no challenge, there are races for the Monomoy Regional School Committee, Brooks Free Library trustees, and one incumbent and two write-in candidates for the two seats on the water/wastewater commission.

Longtime Monomoy Regional School Committee member Terry Russell is not seeking re-election. Bre A. Rose and Ann Marie Varella are vying for the three-year term.

Rose is a fourth generation Cape Codder, an active community member and the parent of a MRHS honor student. She has worked as an early childhood specialist and teacher for more than 25 years, mostly in New Jersey, and has also worked as a parent mentor at Cape Cod Child Development, Inc. and continues to serve as a mentor and advocate on the Cape.

She currently serves as a member of the Cape Cod Chapter of the NAACP, as a member of the MLK Action Team and as a member of the Monomoy Regional School District’s diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging advisory council.

Rose said she would work for a robust diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative that ensures marginalized voices are heard and all members of the school community are welcomed, supported and have the resources to thrive.

“Representation is important and demographics are changing at Mono

Rose said she wants to represent children and parents who have issues that might not be heard. She highlighted student achievement in Monomoy as being better than the state average, but added work is still needed because there are children who are still not reaching achievement levels. She said she would work on their behalf.

“Schools that center the needs of all children should be our common goal,” said Rose.

There is a need to develop an effective employment strategy to recruit, support and retain highly qualified educators, she said. There is a need for diversity in staffing to provide different perspectives and a need to develop strategies to address housing issues and provide incentives to draw qualified educators to Monomoy, she said.

“I look forward to engaging with Harwich residents, listening to your concerns, sharing ideas and beginning the collaborative work that will strengthen our school and our community,” said Rose.

Varella has 24 years of teaching experience in the Cambridge and Waltham school system. She served as a math teacher and a math coach. She graduated from Bentley University with a business degree and worked in the corporate world, before realizing she wanted to do something more fulfilling, she said. She pursued two masters degrees, one in math education and the other in English language learning in order to work with students from other cultures.

Varella has a son in middle school and one in high school. She has been working in the STEM program in the Monomoy system, but said she will step down if elected to the school committee. The district is still trying to figure out how it wants the STEM program to progress, she said, adding that she is supportive of STEM pathways for students through the blue economy.

“I believe that we are stronger together and that diversity of perspectives is integral to success,” said Varella. “I have found that the youth have valuable insights to contribute to our collective well being. I hope to provide young people a platform for engaging in the change they hope to see. I will continue to build trusting relationships with the students, the families, and the educators in the district.”

Varella said she would talk to folks in the community, ask strategic questions such as how to prepare graduates of Monomoy to celebrate diversity and grow inclusive culture. Additional questions would include what challenges need to be overcome and what advice should be given to today’s youth.

“It would be my honor to represent the interests of the residents of Harwich by increasing collaboration through community building,” said Varella.

There are three seats on the Brooks Free Library board of trustees up for election. Incumbents Jeannie Wheeler and Joan McCarty are seeking re-election, and Lynn Budell and Patricia Murray are also seeking those positions.

There are two seats up for election on the water/wastewater commission. Noreen Donahue is seek re-election and two write-in candidates, Richard “Val” Peter and Robert Young, have notified Town Clerk Emily Mitchell that they are seeking seats on the commission.

Moderator Michael Ford is also seeking re-election to a three-year term and housing authority member Arthur Bodin is seeking a five-year term.

There is one debt exclusion question on the ballot which seeks approval for the Monomoy Regional School District to borrow $2.5 million to renovate and reconstruct the exterior siding of the middle school in Chatham. Harwich’s share of the cost would be a little more than $1.8 million.

The polls are open on Tuesday, May 21 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the community at 100 Oak Street.