Debra Coen Speaks of Her Desire to Give Back to the Community



MADISON – In a prepared statement, candidate for Madison Borough Council and former Madison Board of Education member Debra Coen of Hoyt Street discusses her reasons for running, what she hopes to accomplish, and confirms her support for the current Council’s fiscal policies. She looks forward to working with her running mate, Councilwoman Astri Baillie, Mayor Bob Conley and the other Council members to deliver dependable municipal services in a fiscally responsible manner. Councilman Ben Wolkowitz has announced he will not be seeking re-election, and Ms. Coen will be running to fill his seat on Council.

Debra Coen stated, “Twenty-four years ago I was a freshman at Drew University – that was my first experience in Madison. As a student, we loved walking downtown and the easy access it gave us. I left Madison temporarily after graduation (moving to Chatham) and then returned in 2004, married with one child and twins on the way. We settled in Madison because of its beautiful downtown, the easy access it provides to New York City and nearby Morristown, and of course, because of the great Madison schools. We have stayed here and will continue to stay here for all these reasons.

I was flattered to be asked to run for Council, and as I thought about why I wanted to run, there were several thoughts that came to mind. First, it would be an honor to be running with Councilwoman Astri Ballie. She has helped the Borough Council lead Madison through six years of fiscally responsible government – budgets are well under control, municipal tax increases have been kept to a minimum, and our AAA credit rating protected. The knowledge Astri has gained volunteering on various boards and committees in Madison, as well as on Council, will serve the town well as she helps guide us through the development of a new Master Plan for Madison.

Through my volunteer work I have always tried to give back to the town that I have called ‘home’ for so long. Whether that was PTO involvement, the Madison Soccer club, the Board of Education, or most recently the Madison Scholarship Committee, I have always tried to find ways to be involved in the town. Both within the Madison community and in my job as a teacher, I have taken on leadership roles that allow me to go beyond being a volunteer or my classroom. Many of the volunteer activities I listed above included leadership rules throughout my involvement in them.

Madison offers so much – small businesses that truly care about their customers and are invested in the town, restaurants with an increasing variety, great schools, and the ability to participate in a warm and welcoming community. The community events that the town offers, such as Bottle Hill Day, Taste of Madison, May Day, the MEF 5K, and services for Memorial Day and Veterans Day as well, demonstrate how we can all work together to build and serve our neighbors and the community as a whole. I have seen firsthand how neighbors will help neighbors when needed – through meal trains and other support – to insure that everyone is safe and well cared for.”

In addition to her Bachelor’s Degree from Drew, Debra Coen has a Master’s Degree in Technology Education from Montclair State University and holds several teaching certifications, including her most recent in special education from Rowan University. Coen is entering her 19th year as a teacher in the West Orange school system and has received numerous awards for her teaching. Recent awards include the NJTEEA Integrative Teacher and the NJSBA Innovative Special Education Award for Adaptive iSTEM in 2016 and the NJTEEA Impact award in 2015.

While on the Board of Education, she served on the board’s Curriculum Council and the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and for the last two years, she served as its Chair.

Debra Coen concluded, “I would love to continue giving back to the Madison community – helping with the continued revitalization of downtown, as well as helping to create a stronger working relationship between the borough and the school district as well as with the nearby colleges. Working with Council and the administration to continue good work that has been done is important. We need to find ways to continue to improve what already makes this the great town we call home.”