JERSEY CITY – Today voters in Jersey City have the opportunity to select from a wide field of 10 candidates who are running for the Board of Education. Voters can select up to three candidates. The three top vote getters will each serve three-year terms on the board.
Running this year are two incumbents, Frances O. Thompson and Sue Mack, in addition to candidates Carol Harrison-Arnold, Marvin Adames, Hiral Patel, Vidya Gangadin, Jayson Burg, Amanda Khan, Aurym Nunez, and Nabil Youssef.
In a recent forum for voters the candidates agreed the current school administration lacks transparency and has failed to trim unnecessary costs, wasting millions in taxpayer dollars.
Mack, Harrison-Arnold, and Adames are running together as a slate that has been endorsed by Jersey City Councilman and 2013 mayoral hopeful Steven Fulop. If the trio sweeps in the election, it will be the second time in two years that a slate backed by Fulop has won the school board race. This would mean that six of the nine Board of Education trustees would have ties to Fulop, who has positioned himself as a fiscally conscious reformer and opposition to Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy.
Fulop’s allies on the board could push the school board to launch a national search for a new schools superintendent to replace current superintendent, Dr. Charles Epps. Epps’ leadership of the school system has been marked with controversy and many residents have criticized his spending priorities and salary, in addition to some personnel hires he has approved. Most recently he was in hot water for publically stating that female students in the Jersey City school system are to blame for problems in the district.
A victory by Mack/Harrison-Arnold/Adames could signal that Fulop’s name recognition and power base is expanding in the city ahead of a possible head-to-head mayoral race against Healy.
A loss by the candidates, particularly by the non-incumbents Harrison-Arnold and Adames, could mean that the downtown councilman has thus far failed to broaden his base of support beyond his home base of Ward E. Voters in Ward F, for instance, will likely lean heavily towards Thompson, a strong incumbent who could block a Mack/Harrison-Arnold/Adames sweep.
In addition to selecting trustee members, voters will also be able to approve or reject the portion of the school district’s proposed $630 million budget that would come from local tax dollars. The proposed budget includes an annual tax increase that would translate to $32 for the average homeowner.
Polls in Jersey City will be open until 9 p.m. this evening – E. Assata Wright