Plainfield must vote Column 2 for BOE to finally stop Carmencita Pile

Carmencita Pile serves on the Board of Education and the Planning Board – an embarrassment to me as a Plainfield resident. Her continued service shows how little accountability local officials face due to several factors: money in politics, low voter turnout, and the death of local media who can hold people accountable. As a result, most residents don’t know who Carmencita is and why she should be nowhere near any levers of power, anywhere.

Fortunately for us, Carmencita Pile tells on herself via social media. Her public Facebook page gives us a shocking view into how she operates.

Take her rant from May 26, 2021, where she accused then-candidate Richard Wyatt of wanting to bring back the 1950s. “You want to bring back segregation?” she asked the mayoral candidate who is now the Democratic nominee for an at-large City Council Seat. “You want to separate the schools again?”

Wyatt’s offense? Expressing pride in being a fourth-generation Plainfield resident. A proud family must want to make us all second-class citizens. Typical Carmencita – two plus two equals eight.

There was the time where she called progressive County Commissioner Rebecca Williams a liar and a thief for simply supporting Ashley Davis, the party nominee, in her bid to become the youngest person elected to the Plainfield City Council. Davis, who Pile has defamed on many occasions, ended up serving admirably during her single term on the governing body before deciding not to run for re-election. Ms Davis’ exemplary public service doesn’t stop Carmencita Piles’ continued, baseless attacks.

But it’s not just the way she acts on social media. There are real consequences to having someone like Carmencita Pile in a position of power.

Look at our terrible traffic and parking situation right now. These new apartment buildings that dot our entire railway corridor usually require variances from the Planning Board to be able to be constructed, and to provide less parking than would normally be required. As a planning board member, Carmencita Pile votes in favor of development virtually every time she is present.

These developments all receive 30-year tax abatements where they pay not one dollarto our local schools, and a fraction of their market-rate tax bill to the city. And while the City Council votes for these PILOT agreements – not the Planning Board – Carmencita has defended the practice again and again.

She campaigns tirelessly for the city council members who approve massive tax breaks where some projects costing in the tens of millions of dollars pay less annually than a normal residential block. You’d think a Board of Education member would understand why we can’t afford to give huge tax cuts that further underfund our increasingly overcrowded schools as we welcome new residents.

The truth is, this is darker than just ignorance. Carmencita Pile is too close to developers to care whether they pay their fair share. In one June 7, 2021 video on her Facebook page, she brags that developers have called her phone to inquire about building new apartments in Plainfield. Such contact is totally unethical for a member of the Planning Board who votes regarding these very projects. But because of the lack of accountability here in Plainfield, she’s never had to answer questions about these relationships – and can admit to them with little to no consequences. Meanwhile, she continues to pave the way for tax-free development in Plainfield.

Her shady ethics are not limited to the Planning Board, as Pile faces a multi-count New Jersey School Ethics charge right now. She’s faced others in the past.

You can’t categorize Pile’s behavior as either unstable or unethical. It’s a little bit of both. She offers a lethal cocktail: equal parts clueless and conniving.

In one of her Facebook rants, she viciously attacked then-School Board member Richard Wyatt for having advocated for more school funding in Plainfield. While Governor Murphy did close much of the district’s funding gap, Plainfield was never fully funded according to the state’s own funding formula. If anything, we need BOE members who use their voices in Trenton, outside of board meetings. Plainfield deserves to be fully funded.

This is part of a pattern. Pile has a track record of denying resources for Plainfield Schools. In late 2020, Pile helped to sink a BOE referendum that would have allowed Plainfield residents to vote on financing a long-desired vocational training wing of Plainfield High School. The state was offering to pay 50% of the cost, and the rest of the financing would come at a 1% interest rate. The tax increase to the average Plainfield homeowner would have been roughly $16/month. Most importantly, the people of Plainfield would have been able to vote for or against this referendum. We’d be in charge of our own destiny. Unfortunately, Pile voted to never even give us the chance to bring vocational training to Plainfield, as many other districts did. And with the end of the state’s offer plus skyrocketing interest rates, this was an opportunity we’ll never get back.

In the past year, Pile voted against SLIFE – a point of entry school to service Plainfield students – as well as an alternative school, both of which would have helped some of Plainfield’s most vulnerable students.

Pile even continues to show support for disgraced former Superintendent Steven Gallon III, who is now banned from working in New Jersey, and whose tenure culminated with jam packed auditoriums of angry Plainfield parents. 

Carmencita Pile is a dangerous person who I wouldn’t trust to take care of my own two children, let alone to be in charge of the 9000-plus students in our district. But after six years of her destructive behavior, she wants your vote again, on Tuesday, in Plainfield’s only contested local election. This is a choice that Plainfield simply cannot afford right now.

Fortunately, there are better choices for Plainfield’s Board of Education.  I am a candidate for BOE, along with my running mates – Shonté Smith and Willie P Hembree.

We need board members who are not afraid to advocate for our district outside of Board meetings – as the city, state, and BOE are all connected. We need these Board members to put the district first. These board members must not be reliant on the city and county political machine who continues to sell our students short. My team has no connections to the machine, and we vow to advocate for the students.

We vow to fight for better teacher pay in Plainfield, which right now boasts the lowest average pay in Union County in the middle of a teacher shortage. Speaking of which, we’ll push to develop a plan to address this shortage.

We vow to make sure children are removed form outdated trailers, and to provide all the services possible to students who need it most.

We vow to make decisions based on data, and to employ a collaborative approach involving the community and other stakeholders. Vocational training and performing arts do matter.

We vow to address waste and re-allocate those resources where they can make the most impact on student learning.

The choice is clear. Tomorrow, on November 8, a vote for Column 2 is a vote towards progress in our schools.

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