6 months after failed referendum, Hoboken BOE race features 8 candidates


Six months after a $230 million school referendum was voted down in Hoboken, the upcoming board of education race features eight candidates.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The “Kids First” team will consist of Pavel Sokolov, Cindy Wiegand, and Donna Magen.

Sokolov was a key voice in calling for the aforementioned school referendum to get voted down, while Wiegand ran independently for a council-at-large seat in November and lost definitively.

Meanwhile, Magen is a first time candidate for office and has a child in the public schools.

Trustee Alex De La Torre is running alongside another newcomer, Leslie Norwood, and zoning board member Antonio Grana. Their slate has not submitted a slogan yet.

Grana was also the chairman of the Friends of the New Hoboken High School campaign account, which supported the vote yes effort for the January ballot question.

Perennial candidate Pat Waiters is also giving it another go, running under the banner “Transparency, Respect, Integrity,” with former Trustee John Madigan trying again under the slogan “Hoboken Children First.”

Additionally, Trustees Joyce Simons and Sheillah Dallara aren’t seeking re-election.

The eight candidates will vie for three, three-year terms on November 8th.

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  1. After being blindsided by a disingenuous the members of the BOE in the last referendum, I and many others who are looking for true transparency on the BOE voting in Pavel Sokolov, Cindy Wiegrand and Donna Megan is a good start.

    • Thank you Rose! You’re the real deal
      So is Leon Gold
      Forget Some of the others like whacky Ailene, Sheila ( council wannabe ) Dallara
      They are done and too afraid to run again

      Time to put these elitists to pasture

  2. Nice to see the incumbents try to disguise their alliance with Madigan
    That won’t work we know who he is
    Just ask Teresa M and Irene

    • Bhalla/Johnson wanted to dilute the vote to hang on to seats and recruited willing straw dogs to appear on the ballot. Top three get seated.
      Hoboken voters want real change at the BOE. That requires changing the make up of the Board.

  3. Very strange that the BoE replaced their incumbents who were too afraid to run again, with Grana who was the lead organizer for the Hoboken High School, over 2/3rds of the town disagreed with their plan and yet they choose to run its biggest supporter? Sad when our elected representatives really just don’t care about the regulars person. I hope at least this time the BoE will recognize that just because someone doesn’t have kids they can still have a voice and a vote. Councilwoman Fisher didn’t deserve any of that hate the BoE and their supporters threw at her.

  4. Kids First 2.0 is the Hudson County Young Republican Chair (Sokolov), a Hoboken Charter School parent (Wiegand), and an unknown (Magen). One hopes that Magen is a Hoboken District parent. Other than opposition to the HHS referendum, what qualifies these candidates- a partisan politico and Charter mom- to run Hoboken District public schools?

    The original Kids First were district parents, and non-partisan. KF ended the wholesale grifting of corrupt administrators and out education monies back in classrooms, had the first audit presented to the public (oops the camera lens was on during that presentation. audio was eventually obtained), and so began the turnaround of a neglected and depleted district. They were pioneers, for which they suffered harassment by slugs who didn’t want to get shoved off the gravy train.

    So, right out of the gate, Kids First 2.0 bears no resemblance to their namesake. It seems “Kids First 2.0” is trolling Kids First, or reaching for some unearned authenticity. Who knows.

    • Agreed, we should only elect those that perfectly conform to the current BoE. Reaching across the political aisle or learning from a charter parent should be forbidden and chastised. We need the same mentality that gave us the failed and reviled Hoboken High School Referendum. Like the BoE (De La Torre) and Friends of the Hoboken High School Leadership (Grana) said, if you don’t have a child in the district, shup up because your opinion doesn’t matter. MAGA activist and Friends of the Hoboken High School leader Chris Clark made that perfectly clear with his anti woman remarks towards Tiffany.

      • All of the political hacks here cheering for a partisan Republican official and a charter parent to run Hoboken’s public school district don’t know diddly about what goes on inside those buildings and THAT is the POINT.

        The political hacks posting here are framing a one-issue race: the HHS referendum, and are woefully ignorant of the panoply of programs and issues each school is facing. The public is tired of nasty, divisive political campaigns. So keep playing that one-note symphony and bring a big towel to wipe egg off their faces at the debate.

        • Agreed, but then why did you feel compelled to bring up partisan politics from the get go? I don’t see any of the candidates making a big deal about their personal politics. I guess its politically advantageous for you guys to downplay the HHS referendum since it shows just go wrong on the issues the BoE is. Isn’t the very first commentator on this thread a former Kids First BoE President, endorsing the current Kids first slate?

  5. A quick Google search reveals that Hoboken High School placed in the bottom 50% of all schools in NJ for overall test scores for the 2018-19 school year. The percentage of students achieving proficiency in math was 8% (vs New Jersey state average of 44%) and the percentage of students achieving proficiency in reading/language arts was 43% (vs New Jersey state average of 57%). Yet we spend $35,991 per student, much more than the state median of $25,552. The “Kids First” slate understands that it will take more than an expensive, overdesigned new school building to address this problem. They have my vote.

    • Dear “Time for a Change”:

      Why “Google” 2018-2019 when you can go on the NJ-DOE site for the 2020-2021 district-school school assessments which are assessments for each school’s respective populations, including by disability. Same old, same old. If you don’t understand what support services Hoboken District provides, and what the needs are, you can sit on your rump behind your computer screen, scratch yourself, and regurgitate stale, election-time talking points.


    • “The “Kids First” slate understands that it will take more than an expensive, overdesigned new school building to address this problem.”

      So…tell us, then, what’s their answer? They “understand” the “problem”, now tell us what they (you?) would do about it?

  6. Antonio Grana was one of the Vote Yes leaders who knew about the referendum before the November election and kept it a secret so he could try and rally his base. Grana also scheduled a district-parents only zoom right before the election that was attended by 4 school board members and Dr. Johnson. Grana like Leslie Norwood would be a rubber stamp for Sharyn Angley and the HBOE if they win this November.

    • It looks like the only way to run with the BoE is to already be an intrenched politician, why can’t regular residents get involved, probably because they are shut out by the Insider crowd. At least we know where the Kids First Slate came from, the Vote No team, and moms of Hoboken students.

    • Antonio Grana had to know and was complicit in keeping the facts of the failed referendum from the voters. Why should the votes trust him now ?

  7. I heard a rumor that Sheillah Dallara was pushed to not run again for fear that she would lose? Is that true?

    I always found her to be a great board member who was a strong advocate for special needs students. It would be a shame if she didn’t run again because of how nasty the Vote No side was during the referendum.

  8. Superintendent Dr. Johnson’s annual salary is $222,000 plus platinum benefits paid by Hoboken taxpayers and for she should be doing a much better job at giving them the real, transparent, full facts well in advance of any new referendum.
    Leading up to and during the recent failed $300,000,000 referendum she and her BoE members treated Hoboken taxpayers as the enemy that needs to stop.