Youngest School Board Member Takes on NRA

Photo Courtesy/ Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu Alexander Reincke, Dr. Cem Zeytinoglu, Jim Burke, and Tameko Patterson make up the Clean Slate campaign team.

Bill Carangelo 

Staff Writer 

“At the end of the day, the NRA is just the influence that profits off of gun sales… it’s a coalition of large weapons manufacturers, and there’s no way we’re going to make a deal with that devil,” said ESU student and Stroudsburg School Board Director Alex Reincke.

Reincke, a 21-year-old political science major with a concentration in international relations, along with his colleagues known as the Clean Slate, was elected to the Stroudsburg School Board in November of 2017.

“Over the years the previous members, the four that we replaced, had angered the community in a lot of different ways. They closed schools; they fired upper administration, notably the previous superintendent. It was just a compilation of a lot of different things,” Reincke said.

From the onset, Reincke understood the task that stood before him and his fellow board members. With an emphasis on stabilization and a return to normal, they started their roles within the community.

“Almost right away we were hit with a bunch of unexpected problems,” Reincke said.

Examples of these issues that were being faced from the beginning were class sizes, specifically in the elementary schools and kindergarten, and the massive mold infestation and removal within Chipperfield Elementary.

As a Student Representative for the school board prior to being elected, Reincke notes the difference between being a representative and being an official member.

As a board member, there is an influx of information and responsibility that is placed upon one’s shoulders.

Reincke and the Clean Slate faced one of their biggest controversies when the NRA offered Stroudsburg High School a grant to cover the costs of new rifle team equipment.

“There was a certain logic to it. The rifle team needed new equipment and there was an NRA grant where all we had to do was say yes to it and they would get it,” Reincke said. “This is how the NRA gets so much influence in our society… They pursue this influence campaign at every level, and we have to do our part to throw that off.”

Reincke and the Clean Slate rejected the NRA grant and were instantly met with media exposure on a national level. From news outlets like the Washington Post and CBS News to Daniel Dale, a correspondent of the Toronto Star and one of Reincke’s personal favorite Twitter accounts to follow. There was a massive amount of outcry to the school board’s position.

While there were many that supported the school board’s decision, there were equally as many who opposed it.

The emails of Reincke and the Clean Slate are public, and that fact was abused heavily following the vote against the grant. Reincke notes that he received constant emails for days following the ruling.

“One called me a Nazi. Literally, the next one called me a communist democrat – socialist. They somehow thought I was both a Nazi and a Democrat. I don’t know how that works,” Reincke said. “The way they get away with it is through just enough intimidation, but staying under the technical line, and it’s brutal.”

Despite the backlash and constant harassment, Reincke has not faltered from his viewpoint.

“I would do it again, I would do it again every single time – for a thousand times I would,” Reincke said.

What resonated with Reincke following the school board’s verdict on the NRA grant was the community uniting to help Stroudsburg’s rifle team. Even if local business owners did not support the school board’s vote, they still stepped forward to try and raise the money for this wonderful high school team.

A GoFundMe created by Democratic state Rep. Maureen Madden raised over $10,000 for the Stroudsburg rifle team.

“I’ve been hunting. I grew up around guns. I’m in the army. But at the end of the day, the NRA is just the influence that profits off of gun sale,” Reincke said.

Reincke and the Clean Slate began their tenure of the Stroudsburg School Board hoping to create a sense of stability and normality within the community.

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