JERSEY CITY -- Tuesday’s school board election in Jersey City is still being seen as a shock to some.
With 97 percent of the vote counted as of Wednesday morning, Sterling Waterman, Angel Valentin, and Carol Lester finished first, second and third. All three were endorsed by downtown City Councilman Steven Fulop.
Waterman received what is believed to be a record number of votes with 6,946 followed by Valentin’s 6,453 and Lester with 3,848.
Valentin is the only one of three incumbents to prevail, with former Mayor Gerry McCann and former basketball star Terry Dehere getting the same number of votes: 2,199. Hiral Patel, who ran on a ticket with McCann and Dehere, received 2,151 votes.
Both McCann and Dehere had voted against the recent teachers' contract, and had predicted numerous teacher layoffs and other financial problems if the contract had been passed. The contract was voted down at a March 18 board meeting. That led the teachers’ union, the Jersey City Education Association, to endorse Waterman and Valentin along with Sebastian D’Amico, who finished fourth.
Taking satisfaction in the victory of the three candidates was Fulop, who celebrated along with supporters at the downtown bar LITM.
“I’m happy for the three candidates,” Fulop said. “I think what they will do, first and foremost, is put the residents first.”
Also on the ballot was the $618 million school budget with a $102 million tax levy, which was approved by a 59-41 percent margin. That was despite Gov. Christopher Christie calling for New Jersey residents to vote down their school budgets so more cuts could be made. The school budget already anticipates many teacher layoffs. -- RK