Former principal Jack Lorenz is endorsing anti-establishment in the upcoming election, the ex-principal told Patch Wednesday night.
"I have a lot of respect for him and his dedication to education in Ridgewood," Lorenz said from his Alabama home in a phone interview. "I think he can bring some forsight and also the skills he's acquired in the business world. Along with community service, I think that makes him an ideal board candidate."
Lorenz said he first met with Morgan, a Beverly Road neighbor, over concerns related to construction issues at the high school/neighborhood during the work. Lorenz said he found Morgan to be a "problem solver" whose "tough questions" made him reconsider practices and policies at the high school.
"He was never a complainer or a whiner," the former principal said. "He was always someone who had concerns who wanted things to be what they should be. He has a commitment to education in Ridgewood and he always has."
Lorenz, who spent seven years as the principal of the high school, . The long-time educator cited "philosophical differences" with top administrators, whom his had engaged in a pattern designed to "belittle" and "embarrass" him.
He's now in Alabama with his family and working at Columbia Southern University, an online school serving 30,000.
Asked if his endorsement of Morgan was an indictment of opponent Bob Hutton, Lorenz said that wasn't the case.
"It's not really a factor. I just think Jim Morgan is a superb candidate who will bring a new perspective to the board. I think Bob has done an OK job," he said.
The two candidates are squaring off in a for a one-year term, created by . School board Trustee Vince Loncto, who was appointed to fill Reilly's seat in November, is facing Gina Damasco for a three-year term.
"I think Jim has the ability – a lot like Vince Loncto has – to demand an answer to a question and not let people walk around an issue," Lorenz said. "I think he'll be an asset to other board members, pushing them to think in different ways."
Lorenz said he wasn't worried about Morgan working well with other board members, though the candidate has been known to criticize board decisions, notably on fields/lights issues.
"Some people may not agree with him or like him," Lorenz said, pointing to sport groups. The ex-principal said contrary to what many believe, Morgan wasn't opposed to the fields or the lights, but rather the disclosure and process. The candidate was grilled on his field-related criticisms of the board at Candidate's Night, including if he'd have to abstain from participating in discussions.
Morgan – who's distanced himself during the campaign from fields issues and has focused largely on transparency and the budget process – said he was thankful for Lorenz's endorsement.
"Jack Lorenz was a great principal whose open communication style and positive attitude were responsible for much of RHS's recent success," Morgan said Wednesday night. "I enjoyed working with him and am honored that he has endorsed me for a seat on the BOE."
Elections for the school board and school budget take place Tuesday, April 17.