The race is on
Ten candidates seek three-year school board seats
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Aug 12, 2018 | 2183 views | 0 0 comments | 132 132 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION TIME AGAIN – Many of the ten candidates who are running for three seats have run in past elections
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Ten people have filed to become candidates for three seats on the Board of Education in an upcoming Nov. 6 election.

Four seats will actually be open this year. But because trustee Angel Valentin resigned after the July 30 filing deadline, the school board, not the voters, will pick a replacement to serve until the general election in November 2019. Valentin said health issues made his resignation necessary.

Incumbents Mussab Ali, Vidya Gangadin, and Marilyn Roman are seeking reelection.

Candidate Joan Terrell-Paige, a community activist, will run on a ticket with Ali and Roman.

Other candidates include Neil Abadie, Asmaa Abdalla, Natalia Ioffe, John Hanussak, Yousef Saleh and Dominique Smith.

Gangadin, who was first elected to the board in November 2012, is seeking her third term.

Roman, a former city council member, county freeholder, and acting mayor of Jersey City, is also seeking her third term on the board.

Last November, Ali won a one year-term to fill the seat John Reichart vacated in 2016.

Abadie co-chairs the Young Professional Board of Garden State Equity.

Abdalla, born in Egypt and raised in Jersey City Heights, ran on the Jersey City United ticket in 2016.

Ioffe, a local PTA president and activist, ran as an independent in 2016. John Hanussak, a community activist and employee of Jersey City, ran for city council in Ward C last November.

Saleh, a graduate of McNair Academic High School, and Rutgers University, ran for the board in 2017. Smith is a member of the Jersey City Rotary Club.


“Due to the high work load ahead of us, my recommendation to the full board will be take up this vote immediately.” – Sudhan Thomas


Valentin replacement to be named on Aug. 31

Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas said the board is advertising for candidates to fill Valentin’s seat.

“The Board has 65 days to appoint a person who would serve until the next regularly-scheduled election [November 2019],” Thomas said. “That coincides with the date that Mr. Valentin would be up for re-election. We went through a similar exercise when former vice president and trustee John Reichert resigned in December, 2016. We have some recent experience with the majority of the current board members having navigated that situation. I have requested the board secretary to start the process for the notification and advertisement to fill up the vacancy.”

The board can decide to vote during that meeting, or during the September meeting, or at a special meeting no later than Oct. 14 to fill up the vacancy.

“Due to the high workload ahead of us, my recommendation to the full board will be to take up this vote immediately at the next scheduled meeting in August, so we can have a full nine member board before the start of the school year,” Thomas said.

Gina Verdibello, a community activist who last ran for the board in 2016, has said she would submit her name for consideration.

Board will review terminations made in June

Also on the Aug. 31 agenda will be lingering questions about the termination of eight employees at the June 29 meeting, as well as the removal of the district’s lead attorney.

Board members Amy DeGise, Luis Felipe Fernandez, Vidya Gangadin, and Matt Schapiro ,who voted against these terminations have asked the state Commissioner of Education to review the action, calling the terminations “arbitrary and capricious.”

Thomas said the action was taken when Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles failed to submit in a timely matter the names of those eight and 10 other employees to the board for reappointment.

Thomas said the district sometimes hired people to positions they were not qualified to hold, often getting around civil-service regulations.

This, he said, was highlighted in a report by an outside consultant issued to the board in 2012, whose recommendations were never enacted by Lyles. The board’s actions, he said, did follow some of the recommendations in the report.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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