Gus Kakavas, 59, Smokerise Lane, Toms River Transportation Consultant (LLC) Husband, Father and Grandfather to five Granddaughters
Seeking second, three-year term to Toms River Regional School Board.
Please briefly explain what professional and civic/volunteer experience you have. Feel free to include job experience, awards, or schooling.
In have been a lifelong resident of Toms River. I attended Washington St. Elementary School, Toms River Intermediate School (now Int East), Toms River High School South (President of my Class), Ocean County College and Rutgers University. I worked for 26 years in the Toms River Regional Schools, retiring in 2005 as the Director of Transportation and Emergency Management. I then worked briefly at the Asbury Park Press as Transportation Manager earning their coveted "Rising Star Award". I later went on to work for the Department of Defense at Joint Base McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst as a term employee Security Specialist with specific Anti-Terrorism training, earning multiple commendations. When my term expired and funding was not renewed, I started my own Transportation Consulting business (LLC). I currently provide services to multiple school districts. I also maintain valid NJ Realtor Associate and NJ Mortgage Loan Officer Licenses.
I have served as President of the Toms River Volunteer First Aid Squad, Sergeant in the Toms River Township Auxiliary Police, charter member of the Toms River Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Toms River Rent Leveling Board, Toms River Board of Adjustment, Toms River Planning Board, Ocean County Planning Board-Transportation Subcommittee, YMCA Board of Directors, "Voice of the Mariners" sports announcer for 25 years, Governor's Committee for School Business Efficiency, NJ Dept. of Education Transportation Executive Committee, School Transportation Supervisors of NJ Legislative Chairman, NJ Association of School Business Officials Executive Board - Transportation Chairman, National Association of Pupil Transportation - National Bus Standards Writing Committee, March of Dimes Executive Board - National Franklin Award Winner, Ocean County College Distinguished Achievement Award, American Heart Association "Heart Walk" logistics Chairman, American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" site Coordinator, Toms River Fire Company Halloween Parade Committee - Marching Band Logistics Coordinator, VFW Veterans Day Parade Logistics Coordinator, Member of the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church Executive Board/ Parish Council and currently the Voice of the PAC (Parish Athletic Center). I have donated my MC/DJ services to dozens and dozens of organizations and school fundraisers for the last 30 years.
What are your key concerns about the Toms River schools?
Toms River Schools has been through its most difficult chapter in its history. I have worked diligently to clean-up the mess that was made by the former Superintendent and still keep the focus on supporting the all-important mission of providing the best, most affordable education possible for our students. Going forward, I am committed to continue that course and do whatever is within my power to ensure what is good and special about Toms River's schools continues to flourish; and whatever is in need of improvement, to consider every possible answer that improves results and yet keeps taxes stable
What issues do you hope to address in the coming term? And what do you think should be done to resolve those issues?
The most obvious and immediate is to restore our stature in the eyes of the community we serve and the educational community at large. With the events of the past two years, so much of what should be our defining greatness has been overshadowed by the investigation. With that behind us, I will continue to strive to preserve, improve and promote what has always made Toms River so special - A Great Education, Amazing Teachers and Support Services, outstanding extra-curricular and athletic opportunities. All this and yet, maintaining one of the lowest costs per student in the state creates a district that many families have historically considered a main factor for moving to or continuing to live in Toms River.
What motivated you to run this year?
Very simple - I love this Town, this School District and the students we serve. I am not motivated by politics or self gain. This district is so special to me that I felt compelled to try to serve another term to continue to do the important work that must be done. I feel my background and long service history to both the district and the town that I love makes me the right choice at the right time.
How do you plan to serve the school board and the residents of Toms River in a meaningful way?
I will give everything in my power to provide the attention, commitment, courage and leadership that this district deserves and needs at this historical point.
Anything to add:
I want to thank my family, friends and members of the community that have supported me beyond what I could ever have imagined. Their faith in me and encouragement through this campaign season has been both humbling and sustaining. I also want to particularly thank my running mate and my friend, Jack Reuther. He is a man of such warmth, integrity and quiet intellect that I am proud to run at his side and hopefully continue to serve with him on this most important volunteer Board of Education position.
Again - Thank you - to everyone and thank you for your vote.