Editor’s Note: Saucon Source invited the seven candidates running for four seats on the Saucon Valley School Board to each share a statement about why they’re seeking election to the board and what they hope to accomplish if elected. All seven responded and their words appear below, without any editing except that which was necessary for consistency and length (responses of 200 words or less were required). The purpose of this guide is to inform local voters about the candidates and their views before the Tuesday, May 18 primary election. With the exception of two candidates, all of the individuals profiled below are cross-filed, meaning their names will appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots. Candidates were also invited to submit a photo of themselves as well as links to their social media pages and/or websites. If they did that, we have included them below, along with any contact details they provided. We encourage all readers who plan to vote in the primary to have a dialogue with these candidates before the election if they have questions about their views, or in the case of incumbents, their records. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789, “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.” To read our Southern Lehigh School Board candidate profiles, click here. For more information about voting in the primary, visit PAVotes.com. For personalized voting information, visit Vote411.org (the League of Women Voters site). For Republican and Democratic municipal primary sample ballots as well as information about drop-off locations and hours for mail-in ballots, visit the Northampton County Election Office website.
Cedric Dettmar (Cross-Filed, Incumbent) | Campaign Website
Cedric grew up in a small town in the Colorado mountains, even smaller than Saucon Valley. His college degrees are in technology and finance, and he has worked for small and large companies doing many jobs from painting lines on the street to managing a $25 million business unit as a vice president at Oracle, one of the world’s largest high-tech companies. Cedric is now the owner of a small high-tech business, Janmar Systems.
Cedric has served on the school board since 2017 and has attended nearly every school board meeting since 2010. He has raised over $80,000 for our schools from corporate donors, coaches the middle school math club and assists with the high school robotics team.
Cedric is proud of the school board’s accomplishments during his term, especially keeping our schools open so our children can continue learning safely and our parents can continue working. He and the board have approved expanded learning opportunities for our students, made needed renovations to our facilities and negotiated an early contract with the teachers’ union, all while holding the line on taxes.
Cedric will continue using his business and finance experience to find ways to keep costs low, defend us taxpayers and bring distinction to our schools.
Raquel Barbera (Democrat) | Campaign Facebook Page
I feel that the school district needs some changes and as a Hispanic woman I feel that I can bring positive changes that will address our community needs and changing world. I will bring over 25 years of experience in the education field from PreK-8th grade. I worked with students of diverse backgrounds and religions. Therefore, I have the knowledge as well as experience of what a school district needs in order to provide and prepare their students with tools they need to succeed in school and everyday life. My family and I are active community members volunteering for the booster club and coaching the school’s varsity softball team.
As a school board member, I will contribute to causes that will help shape the future of the Saucon Valley School District to an ever-growing diverse community, who strives for safety, academic excellence, equality and opportunities for children of all abilities and backgrounds. I am asking for your vote for a seat on the Saucon Valley School District Board on May 18, 2021 in the primary, so I can implement my knowledge and continue to make Saucon Valley School District one of the most prestigious districts in the Lehigh Valley. Contact: email@example.com.
I am a candidate for school board director because I strongly believe in service to my community. School board director is a natural fit for my leadership experience, educational background and in-depth knowledge of our community and schools.
My knowledge and experience led me to my main goals:
*Providing equity in services so all students get the support needed to fully develop their potential, and assuring our school personnel are assigned in a manner which appropriately use their talents and certifications is essential.
*Addressing diversity issues in our school community. Diversity is an umbrella term for a wide variety of differences exhibited in all people. Acknowledging and accepting our differences is imperative to assuring those entering our schools are an integral part of our community.
*Facilitating a collaborative and supportive environment amongst all stakeholders. Highly-functioning school systems value the input of all stakeholders, treat everyone with respect, and are transparent and honest in communication with those they serve.
I will always put the well-being of our youngest community members to the forefront. As a fourth generation resident of our community, I will assure that our citizens’ resources are carefully used to prepare our future generations. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shamim Pakzad (Cross-Filed, Incumbent) | Campaign Website
I am a parent of two Saucon kids, an educator and a leader in my Civil Engineering Department at Lehigh. I am running for re-election based on my record over the last four years.
We kept the schools open for both fully in-person and remote learning (the only public schools in Lehigh Valley) while trusting in science and controlling the spread of COVID. We kept taxes flat and did not increase the burden on our senior citizens. We achieved fair contracts with teachers and support staff, avoiding disruption to school and dividing the community, guaranteeing that our financial future is sustainable. We set the goal for the schools to improve the student learning, assuring that ALL students are cared for. We expanded opportunities for kids to participate in extracurricular activities, updated our facilities, provided all students with iPad technology and instituted revised policies related to bullying, drugs and vaping. We started a new language immersion program, created mathematics pathways, expanded AP and put in place additional remediation.
The new board will negotiate another contract, and the schools will likely have to deal with the pandemic for yet another year. Steady leadership is necessary to make sure these achievements are preserved.
John Conte (Republican)
I believe that our children represent the future of society, so they must be classically educated to ensure our well-functioning society will endure. My daughter received a quality education at SVSD and was Salutatorian of her class upon her 2010 graduation.
After a 36-year career as an Information Technology executive, I now tutor youngsters in industrial technology skills and wish to apply my business, budgeting and education skills to help guide the school district into the future.
- All students must receive education in the academic basics: reading, writing and arithmetic, to the best of their ability, using the most effective methods and materials.
- Parents and guardians are critical partners to promote and support this education at home.
- We must reinforce our instruction in history, American civics, science and physical education.
- Those students with special needs will receive the support they need to be successful.
- All students must receive instruction in a socially conducive, in-person environment while ensuring all precautions are taken to ensure the school’s facilities are safe.
- All district programs must be provided within approved budgets, which protect citizens from tax increases during these challenging fiscal times.
Sandra Miller (Democrat, Incumbent)
Saucon Valley was able to open this past fall because we have dedicated staff, cooperative parents and newer buildings with appropriate ventilation. Most of our neighbors were not as fortunate. The ability to be safe with smaller class sizes and reduced busing occupancy was key to our successful return. All the credit belongs to our staff and families for working together to make the safe opening happen. Our job as a board is to continue to ensure that we have the resources available for our exceptional staff to serve our students in the best manner possible, whatever the situation. Great schools lead to great communities. Our property values are maintained when we invest in our schools and it is our job to make sure that we stay on the path of properly staffing, adequately resourcing and prioritizing the safety of our buildings.
That is the most important job of a school director and why I will continue to work with our professionals in our buildings to see that all our students are successful. All students need to have the opportunity to thrive and to experience a challenging and appropriate educational environment.
Tracy Magnotta (Cross-Filed, Incumbent) | Campaign Website
Tracy grew up in the Lehigh Valley and after graduating from law school, returned with her husband to raise her family here. Tracy has four boys enrolled in Saucon Valley schools. She is also a shareholder at the law firm of Anapol Weiss in Philadelphia.
Tracy is firmly committed to ensuring that Saucon Valley School District remains a top district, to attract new residents, increase property values and bring our community together. A first-generation college graduate in her family, Tracy believes education is the great equalizer. Every Saucon Valley student should be given the opportunity and tools to unlock their highest potential. Tracy is sensitive to the financial burden school taxes place on residents, especially seniors. She is committed to leveraging all available free resources to increase opportunities for students without increasing the financial burden on taxpayers.
Tracy is running for reelection based on her record. She has consistently voted to keep school taxes low while ensuring the district has resources to provide an excellent education for all kids. Tracy is proud that Saucon Valley was the only local district that provided all families with optional five-days-a-week school, as well as of her role in approving an early teacher contract.