In a matchup that appeared to be David vs. Goliath on paper, Gina Verdibello showed that she was very much a skilled, game opponent when she took on three Jersey City Board of Education candidates endorsed by the teacher’s union and the local political establishment.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Many Jersey City politicos and education aficionados alike were surprised to see Verdibello put her name on the ballot once again when Board President Vidya Gangadin, Board VP Marilyn Roman and newcomer John Reichart announced they would be running to fill three seats on the board.
As a result, many wrote off Verdibello as a serious candidate since she would not get any support from the Jersey City Education Association or the local Democratic party.
Once the JCEA formally endorsed Gangadin, Roman and Reichart, the latest incarnation of the “Education Matters” ticket, in late September, many believed it was the beginning of the end – at best.
A former running mate who now sits on the board, Lorenzo Richardson, endorsed Verdibello (and Roman) – who also received support from Jersey City Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano and ex-Assemblyman Sean Connors.
However, that paled in comparison to endorsements from Mayor Steven Fulop and the majority of the city council (unofficially?), which meant that the Jersey City Democratic Organization mainstays would be pounding the pavement to get the vote out for Education Matters.
While Verdibello would not be able to mount an upset of biblical proportions, she bloodied and bruised her adversaries well beyond what anyone would have given her credit for: earning 5,277, losing out to Reichart by about 1,100 votes – which equals around four percent of the total vote.
The third time wasn’t the charm for Verdibello, but after three long years in the trenches, she’s emerged as a viable threat against the increasingly powerful Jersey City machine. It will be interesting to see what she does with her significant block of supporters in 2016.