Three newcomers are vying for two open seats on the Absecon Board of Education in Tuesday’s election.

Incumbents Mike Assad and Mary Hughes have decided not to run for re-election to the three-year positions.

The candidates all say they want to become more involved in the district. They acknowledge they have a lot to learn about how it’s run but are confident they can provide some expertise.

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John Rynkiewicz Jr., a certified public accountant and member of the Finance Committee at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Absecon, said he hopes his accounting and finance background would be a valuable asset for the board.

“I want to be able to understand decisions being made and help in any way I can,” he said. “The school system is the foundation of our community. If I can be involved with decisions that impact the education system that can go a long way.”

Stan Kolbe Jr. said he has been interested for a while in running for the board and has two small children, so he wants to learn more about the district. A longtime resident of the city, Kolbe said he wants to help his hometown.

“I like the small-knit community,” he said. “It’s all I know.”

Kolbe points to the budget problems caused by the district paying to send a growing number of students to public high schools outside the district. In previous years, most Absecon students attended Holy Spirit High School, which did not cost the district.

But Kolbe said he has lots to learn before proposing any changes.

“From what I know now I definitely think it’s a well-run district,” he said. “I’m sure there is room for input. I don’t know the ins and outs yet.”

Chris Cottrell, an auditor with the Atlantic Club Casino, said he would be mindful of taxpayers while he also works to help improve the school district. As an auditor he would review and make recommendations for fiscal policies.

Cuts in state aid, increased costs to the district and improving test scores are his main priorities.

His goals include making programs cost efficient, cutting wasteful spending, promoting greater transparency and advocating for public funds for the district.

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