After living in Hoboken for the past 32 years, the time to run for office in town is now for Tom Kluepfel.
Kluepfel, 56, is running for school board on the Kids First ticket in the Tuesday Nov. 6 elections.
With his children grown up—his son started college and his daughter is a junior at Hoboken High—Kluepfel said it was time to start giving back to the community and create educational opportunities for students.
"I'm excited to get involved with Hoboken again," he said.
More than a decade ago, Kluepfel was one of the founders of the Elysian Charter School. Being part of that, Kluepfel said, "was one of the most fulfilling things that I have done in my life."
Kluepfel, who initially registered as an independent candidate, joined the Kids First ticket after sitting board member Theresa Minutillo decided not to run for re-election.
Kids First approached Kluepfel, he said. And while he didn't know any of the members personally before then, he said he agreed with their platform and goals.
More over, running with an established team proved to be more managable than coordinating everything on his own. As an independent, he said, "the task was a little more daunting."
"Being part of a team is a good thing," he said. "Trying to campaign in Hoboken: it's challenging."
As a frequent attendee of the Hoboken BoE meetings, Kluepfel said he'd like to see the meetings be more productive in less time. (The monthly meetings often go from 7 p.m. to 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning).
"The tone of the meetings needs to be less 'hey that’s how we do it in Hoboken,'" Kluepfel said, "but more 'let’s run a business here,' that’s kind of what the Board of Ed is."
When asked what his main priorities would be as a board member, Kluepfel said he wants to make sure the school district's leadership remains constant. He added he'd like to work with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Toback to "continue the work that he's doing."
"I hear from so many people a skepticism about the public schools," Kluepfel said. "I want to work to spread the word and start changing opinions that young families have about the district."
Part of that, the father of two said, is to improve communication between the district and parents as well as between the district and the community as a whole.
As a parent of a Hoboken High School student, Kluepfel said that he has been impressed with the school. Visiting a back to school night last week, he said, " there was an English class I wanted to take. It was so intellectually fulfilling."
As far as improvements go, he said, he would like to see more parents enroll their children in the high school.
Bettering the district and increasing the test scores is high on Kluepfel's to-do list if elected as a board member.
"There are kids who need help. I think (Toback) is identifying them," Kluepfel said. "That must be job number one."