Results from today's school elections; Newark turnout just 2%; incumbents lose in Monroe, Lodi - New Jersey Globe (2024)

Today was Election Day for voters in twenty municipalities across New Jersey in school board races and special school referendums.

Turnout for a school board election in the state’s largest city, Newark, was dismal, again; less than 2% of voters turned out. Three incumbents – Helena Vinhas (2,636), Vereliz Santana (2,619), and Dawn Haynes (2,453) – were re-elected; Debra Salters finished fourth with 1,342 votes, and five others ran far behind: Sheila Montague (993), Latoya Jackson (754), Muta El-Amin (374), and Jimmie White (331).

Kanileah Anderson was unopposed in her bid for an unexpired term. Vinhas was appointed in January after A’Dorian Murray-Thomas resigned to become an Essex County Commissioner, and Anderson was appointed earlier this year following the resignation of Asia Norton.

Over the last dozen years, most municipalities moved their school board elections to November in a bid to boost voter turnout – and in a deal to avoid getting voter approval on school budgets; some towns have moved back to April.

In Westfield, newcomer Julie Steinberg is the top vote-getter in a race for three school board seats with 2,234 votes; incumbents Sonal Payel (2,044) and Leila Morrelli (1,949) were both re-elected. They defeated Brad Schaeffer (1,209), Lindsay Bezalel (1,680), and Mark Shore (1,106). Sahar Aziz, a Rutgers law professor who faced criticism for her anti-Israel views, did not seek re-election.

Voters approved a $1.675 million increase in the school budget to pay for new teachers and other staff, including three part-time security guards by a 2-1 margin, 2,535-1,240 (67%-33%).

Turnout in Westfield is over 15%.

The largest turnout in the state was in Byram, where nearly 20% of voters turned out in a race for three school board seats. In a contest for an unexpired term, James McBain (731) defeated Debbie Rosario (423) with 62.5%. Two incumbents, Courtny Gallagher, and Kristy McFarlane, were re-elected without opposition. McBain was appointed earlier this year after not seeking re-election in 2023.

Voters rejected a referendum to raise the school budget by $1.7 million to pay for additional salaries to reduce and maintain class sizes by a 59%-40% margin, 549-796.

Five Ocean County municipalities — Toms River, Beachwood, Pine Beach, Seaside Heights, and South Toms River —voted to merge the Toms River Regional School District with the Seaside Heights School District by a landslide 85% margin. About 10% of voters turned out; about one-third were cast by mail-in ballots. But Seaside Heights voters overwhelmingly rejected the merger: 167-398.

Cliffside Park: With less than 5% of the electorate turning out, incumbents Joseph Capano (569), Michael Russo (569), and Marcos Garciga (417) defeated Nancy Ciccone (245) in a race for three school board seats.

Irvington: Newcomer Shante Barr (691) and incumbents Annette Beasley (654) and John F. Brown (644) won seats on the Irvington Board of Education. They defeated Conrad McPherson, who received 253 votes.

Lodi: Incumbent Paula Cortez lost her bid for re-election in a race that drew a 6% turnout. Mika Alcala (553), Joe LaFranca (544), and Al Bautista (535), running on the “New Voices” team, defeated the “Citizens Against Corruption” slate: Cortez (345), George Panagiotou (345), and Carmine Telep (344).

Monroe Township (Middlesex County): Two incumbents went down to defeat by a wide margin in a Board of Education election that drew a high turnout of nearly 18%. Peter Piro (5,313), Charles Zeichner (4,705), and Usha Sharma (4,427) captured three school board seats, defeating incumbents Matthew Gorham (2,695) and Chrissy Skurbe (2,426). A sixth candidate, Raghunath Chitturi, received 2,350 votes).

Voters narrowly approved a referendum appropriating an additional $2.8 million for courtesy busing, late buses for school sports, and an autism teacher. The measure passed, 3,825 (51.5%) to 3,601 (48.5%).

New Brunswick: With a turnout of around 2%, three incumbent school board members were re-elected by wide margins. Jennifer Sevilla (379), Edward Spencer (368), and Diana Solis (353), running on the “A New Beginning” slate, defeated Linda Stork (235), Brittany Richardson (230), and Teni Mendez (209); they had run on the “Students First” ticket.

Voters approved a $37.1 million budget by a 3-1 margin, 425-109 (79.6% to 20.4%).

Passaic: With turnout at 6.6%, voters returned three incumbents to seats on the Board of Education. Danny Rodriguez (1,616), Judith Sanchez (1,558), and Ronald Van Rensalier (1,511) defeated Yosef Wolf (276), Diomodes Minaya (241), Lisa Abreau Wozniak (208), Michael Cohen (193), and Kopic Marko (181).

School board candidates in East Hanover, Fairview, North Bergen, Totowa, Weehawken, and West New York are running unopposed.

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Results from today's school elections; Newark turnout just 2%; incumbents lose in Monroe, Lodi - New Jersey Globe (2024)

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