May 15, 2021
To the Editor,
My husband and partner of more than 22 years, Jim Dugan, is running for Scarsdale School Board and I wanted to share my perspective to help your readers understand why he’s running.
Jim and I met through friends who grew up in Scarsdale. More than 15 years ago, after a devastating personal loss, we moved to Scarsdale from Brooklyn, begrudgingly on my part. We yearned to start a family, and Jim persuaded me to build a life in Scarsdale, in large part due to the excellence of the public schools. Although I doubted my husband sometimes (particularly when it came to DIY plumbing or paint colors), Jim’s passion in researching and executing our move was one honed by his years of training as a lawyer, tempered by his wisdom in knowing when to call in experts. Against all odds, a scant year after leaving Brooklyn, we welcomed our first daughter to our Scarsdale home, one whose ancient bones had finally been shored up by experts. We now have three girls, all of whom attend the public schools.
I share this story because it typifies Jim’s response to problems. Jim is focused on executing excellent solutions every single day in his career and he relies on experts and consensus to help him do that, extending this approach to his personal life. During this pandemic when many experienced “languishing” and/or depression, I felt it too. We lost our part-time child care, but Jim took up the slack, helping our three daughters with schoolwork and cooking most of our meals. Jim had never cooked the family meals before, but he zealously approached the project with gusto and became an excellent chef. I missed my friends and family, but I was happy to spend more time with my best friend.
Jim’s commitment to pro bono work left an impression that I still remember from our first conversation some 22 years ago (at the time he was representing the indigenous Onondaga nation in a civil rights lawsuit). Jim’s passion for pro bono work wholly aligns with my own values. To borrow a phrase from Fred Rogers, Jim is “one of the helpers.” He is dedicated, passionate and committed to excellence and progress in everything he does. Jim’s vision and world view is one of global citizenry and non sibi, especially as he raises bilingual, multiracial daughters.
Many of you know Jessica Resnick-Ault vis-à-vis her work with Bake Back America; she is also one of the helpers. Service work exemplifies love, let’s bring back that culture and tone to our board. Vote for Jessica and Jim for school board on May 18.
Shirley Salmeron Dugan