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7 vie for 5 seats on New Hope-Solebury school board


On Nov. 7, residents of New Hope and Solebury will elect candidates they believe are best suited for the New Hope-Solebury School Board. Two are hoping for a first term. Five are aiming to be reelected.

The seven are competing for five seats on the board. Let’s meet our candidates.

Democrat John Augenblick, the CEO of Rockwood Wealth Management, said he cares deeply about his local community and “is always looking for avenues to serve.” Augenblick served the U.S. as a naval officer in the Submarine Warfare community.

In the run-up to the primary election, Augenblick had expressed that he cares deeply about students’ mental health and feels that when a district is healthy, it can attract the best people.

“It empowers the teachers to deliver an education with passion, enables the district to attract the best people and creates new opportunities.”

He obtained a degree in Engineering from the Naval Academy and earned his MBA from John Hopkins University.

Republican Ronald Felix, a 40-year Solebury resident, holds extensive experience in management on many levels. He holds a B.S. in material engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering and has undergone various forms of training through the office of the attorney general for the department of transportation.

Felix said he is curious to see how the district runs compared to other quality-critical organizations. He has been serving on the curriculum, policy, and facilities committees for the last two years.

Felix said he wants to keep encouraging the district to improve in small areas and to “help them show their professionalism to the public, and to measure and analyze their performance, so as to chart a course for improvement efforts.”

Democrat Judy McHenry Finn, who has served as board president since 2021, and has been on the board since 2019, is running for school director. A Bucks County native, parent and former nurse, Finn said she is devoted to her area, aims to preserve the community of NHSSD and ensure the dynamic and culture the board has built is protected and maintained. She stated students’ mental health is first and foremost on her list to address.

“We have been systematic and creative in trying to address the increasing social-emotional and mental health needs in New Hope. We continually reevaluate those needs,” stated Finn in an email.

In addition to mental health, Finn said “equity work” is something she wants to focus on.

“Every student at New Hope-Solebury deserves the same opportunity to learn,” she said. “Equity is about opportunity and representation. Our students deserve representation in person and in the curriculum. They deserve the respect and support needed to achieve the best that they can.”

Democrat Nick Heble has lived in the area with his partner and children for more than 30 years. He currently works as a patent attorney for The Belles Group P.C. and co-founded Thubrikar Aortic Valve Inc., a Philadelphia-based medical startup.

When reached before the primary, Heble had said, “Although we have undertaken and completed several projects that have benefited the schools and NHS community, there are certain initiatives that have yet to be completed to my satisfaction. I am hopeful that another four years will allow us to complete these projects, which are designed to ensure the long-term health of the district.”

Heble grew up with the familiarity of academics and public service, as he is the son of a public school teacher and administrator.

Republican Donald Martin Jr., an entrepreneur and re-investor, stated previously when reached before the primary that his background has provided “him with strong management and organization skills.”

Martin, who has children in the district, said, “It’s important to have people in places on the board that have a diverse background across many aspects of business and organizational management to provide not only the best education and experience in the school but also keep a firm grip on a financially responsible approach to respect all of the residents who pay taxes in our community.”

In addition to his view on diverse board members, Don previously stated that he wants to provide students with the “best food options while encouraging healthy eating habits.”

Democrat Montu Patel, who has been serving as a board member for a little less than four years, is running for reelection.

“I would like to continue to focus on the facilities projects we have worked on and continue to improve the buildings and grounds,” said Patel, a graduate of Vassar College and NYU. “To continue to work with the administration and teachers to ensure our students reach their highest potential through all of the initiatives.”

He has said he respects and admires educators “that teach our students in the ever-changing world in preparation of tomorrow.”

“This inspires me to learn from the people in this district who are passionate and committed to our students,” said Patel.

He is focused on setting polices that help district students reach their highest potential. He wants to “continue to make NHSD one of the best schools in Pennsylvania.”

Democrat Linda Szwedo, a mom of two and a former teacher, said in an email that she is running for reelection in hopes she can “maintain the excellent strides made by the current board in terms of curriculum.”

She said she believes her experiences as a former teacher — and in education itself — allow her to make a “unique contribution” to the board. As stated before the primaries, Szwedo has more than 45 years of experience in education in grades K-12. She said she believes in the power of public schools.

“Teachers, with support, can provide classrooms that are safe, happy, and nurturing and where everyone can be successful and thrive. Schools should provide the same opportunities for all children, regardless of economic status, race, religion and family circumstances,” said Szwedo.

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