A school-related nonbinding public question took the spotlight last Tuesday in East Newark’s voting booths where residents were asked whether they’d prefer to send their children to Kearny High School instead of Harrison High School, where East Newark kids have gone for more than a century.
And the answer was overwhelmingly, “Yes.” A total of 157 residents (machine and absentees) preferred the Kearny High scenario while 52 wanted to stay with the existing arrangement.
The borough Board of Education is expected now to take the next step: forwarding a legal consultant’s feasibility study in support of the shift to the state Commissioner of Education for final review. East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith has pushed for the change for economic reasons, saying that higher tuition fees assessed by the Harrison school board are driving borough school taxes upwards.
East Newark’s municipal election was a quiet affair – in contrast to the bitterlyfought primary contest – with incumbent Borough Council members Hans Peter Lucas and Jeanne Zincavage reelected to 3-year terms and Kenneth Sheehan, who was appointed to the seat formerly held by Edward Serafin, who resigned, was elected to complete the balance of Serafin’s unexpired term.
Elsewhere, four members of the Kearny Town Council running on the Democratic slate were all voted into office in last Tuesday’s general election. They faced no opposition.
Incumbents Albino Cardoso, Eileen Eckel and Susan McCurrie retained their seats in the First, Third and Fourth Wards, respectively, while newcomer Jonathan Giordano took over for incumbent Laura Cifelli Pettigrew, who opted not to seek re-election.
All four candidates are aligned with Mayor Alberto Santos and the Kearny Regular Democratic Organization.
There was a bit more excitement in the Kearny Board of Education contest, which featured five candidates battling for three seats.
The victors were: newcomers James L. Hill, who led the way with 1,184 votes, and Mercedes Davidson, 1,126; and incumbent Sebastian Viscuso, 1,107. All three were running as a team. Incumbent John Plaugic Jr. polled 941 votes and challenger Oscar Omar Fernandez got 604. Incumbent John Leadbeater didn’t run.
In Belleville, a two-member “team” held sway in the Board of Education race as Patricia Dolan and Ralph Vellon – who were backed by the Voice of Teachers in Education, a political action committee for Belleville teachers – topped a field of five for the two seats available.
The vote, with absentees included, was as follows: Dolan, 2,067; Vellon, 1,759; Christine Lamparello, 1,345; Gabrielle Bennett, 741; and Erika Jacho, 295. Incumbent William Freda didn’t seek re-election and incumbent Joseph Longo resigned after he was elected to the Township Commission.
In Lyndhurst, three candidates running as the “Kids First for Lyndhurst team” won seats on the Board of Education, in the process knocking out two incumbents. James Vuono (1,899 votes, including absentees), Beverly Alberti (1,877) and board president Christopher Musto (1,449) outpaced incumbents Stephen Vendola (1,381) and Josephine Malaniak (1,084) and challenger Jeremy Guenter (443).
And in Nutley, incumbents Lisa Danchak-Martin, Salvatore Ferraro and Frederick Scalera were returned to their seats on the Board of Education with no opposition.
– Ron Leir