By Kathy Chang
WOODBRIDGE — The Board of Education has filled former board member Brian Small’s remaining term, which ends in November.
Joseph Velez, a lifelong resident of the township and a police lieutenant with the Woodbridge Police Department, was sworn in at a meeting on Jan. 21.
“I am proud of this town and very interested in what is best for the students and residents,” he said.
Velez was nominated among four candidates, who included Sanjeev Kapoor, Kevin Robinson, and former board member Judy Leidner.
The four candidates addressed the board and the public on why they should be considered for the position at the meeting, and the board retired into closed session and announced the decision after the session.
Velez has been a Woodbridge Township police officer for 33 years and currently supervises the crime scene and evidence unit.
“Over the years, I have become familiar with the town,” he said, adding that he has lived in the Woodbridge proper, Colonia and Avenel sections of the township before settling down in Fords with his wife Jennifer and two young daughters.
Velez said he has volunteered his time to help Boy Scout troops earn their finger print merit badges; helped with Tooling Around the Township, a home repair and fix-up program that provides low-income, elderly and disabled township homeowners with general home repair services free-of-charge; instructed the Civilian Police Academy, and more.
He said he and his wife both went through the public school system in the township.
“When we started a family we knew right away that we wanted to stay [in the township because] we knew [our children] would receive the same quality of education that we have received,” Velez said, adding that he has many nieces and nephews who also attend schools in the township.
Board Vice President Daniel Harris said he found Velez as a “cool, calming presence” for the board.
“I liked his ideas for the future of the board,” he said, adding that Velez, like Small, would provide police officer experience for the board, which the board has been fortunate to have for the past 15 to 20 years. “[Velez] will be a terrific asset to the school district.”
Small, now a township councilman, had previously served nine and a half years as a member of the Board of Education. He left his board seat on Dec. 31, 2015.