Bayonne BOE names Casais president, Gonzalez VP; Bechay, 21, becomes youngest trustee


The Bayonne Board of Education named Trustee Jodi Casais president and Trustee Hector Gonzalez vice president at last night’s reorganization meeting, where 21-year-old Miriam Bechay became their youngest elected trustee in history.

Bayonne Board of Education Trustee Miriam Bechay, 21, the youngest member to sit on the board. Screenshot via YouTube.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Outgoing President Maria Valado made the motion to nominate Casais as president, which was seconded by Trustee Pamela Sclafane.

Trustee Mary Jane Desmond, who was sworn in before the meeting along with Gonzalez, Bechay, and Trustee Sam Maggio after winning seats in November, indicated that she would like to make another nomination, but Board Secretary Gary Maita said there was already a nomination on the floor.

“There were conversations before the election was even over, over who was gonna do what … I vote no,” she said.

Desmond was the sole no vote, allowing Casais to assume the board’s top leadership post by a vote of 8-1.

“I just want to thank my board that I’m presently sitting with, they had faith in me to do the right thing: thank you,” Casais said in brief remarks afterwards.

Valado also made the motion, which was again seconded by Sclafane, to nominate Gonzalez for vice president. That motion passes 7-2, with outgoing Vice President Christopher Munoz and Desmond voting no.

“I want to say thank you to everyone. These are big shoes that we have to fill: Mr. Munoz has been a class act regarding everything and also Ms. Valado as the president, I’ve learned a lot from them. Thank you, everyone who voted for me or didn’t vote for me, I want to say thank you,” noted Gonzalez.

After the 27-minute or so meeting, Bechay, a lifelong Bayonne resident and product of their public schools, expressed enthusiasm about being a part of the governing body.

“I really became interested in politics by working on local campaigns. I was fortunate that former Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti recruited me and a diverse group of young people to work on campaigns and encouraged us to get more involved in our community,” she said in a statement.

“It’s my time to give back to the community that has already given me so many opportunities. I hope to do the same for the younger generations. I know it will not be easy, but working with my colleagues I know we can succeed: My number one priority is creating opportunities for all our students to succeed.”

Bechay, who is currently studying biomedical engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, ran on the “Together We Can” team with Desmond and Gonzalez, while Maggio ran on “Voices for Progress” slate backed by Mayor Jimmy Davis.

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