Election Day preview: Bayonne BOE, 1st Ward council races will test incumbents’ strength


Residents of Bayonne’s 1st Ward will have double duty at the polls selecting a councilman and three board of education trustees running citywide in races that will test the incumbents’ strength.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

What are voters deciding? 

In the 1st Ward, there are four candidates (including the incumbent) seeking to fill the unexpired term of Tom Cotter, who resigned last year and now works for the Department of Public Works.

The term runs through June 30th, 2022.

For the board of education, it’s another incredibly robust field, with 14 candidates seeking three, three-year terms up for grabs.


Who’s involved?

Mayor Jimmy Davis and the other four city council members are supporting Neil Carroll III to maintain his seat. Carrolls faces challengers in Peter Franco, Paul Hagdorn, and John Cupo.

They are also backing the “Together We Can” BOE slate comprised of Jan Egan, Lisa Burke, and Melissa Mathews. The Bayonne Democratic Committee also donated $1,000 to their campaign, according to their October 30th campaign finance report.

Neither contest has much else to speak of money wise, with most candidates not filing anything with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

For the school board, three incumbents, Charles Ryan, Carol Cruden, and Denis Wilbeck are running together under the “Commitment, Experience, Integrity” banner.

Trustee Michael Alonso is pushing the “Make Bayonne Great” slate that includes his wife, Lauren Alonso, Evelyn Sabol, and Charles Shepard.

Stephanie Wilson, a first time candidate, Anthony D’Amico, who unsuccessfully ran in 2017, Melissa Godesky-Rodriguez, and former school business administrator Leo Smith round out the independents.

Trustee Christopher Munoz has given a formal endorsement of D’Amico and Godesky-Rodriguez, though Trustee Maria Valado is helping Together We Can and Trustee Ava Finnerty is supporting Commitment, Experience, Integrity.


What are the implications?

Davis just has to hope Franco loses in the 1st Ward since he can likely work with the other three candidates easily should they emerge victorious. If Franco wins, he and the other four council members will have some long days ahead of them.

While Franco took some flack over a 2008 conviction for sexually assaulting a minor (he still asserts to this day that he’s innocent), it didn’t seem to hurt his base.

Given that the only other thing close to controversy in this race was that Carroll opted not to do a debate, it seems that this race will be won or lost based on GOTV.

That puts Carroll in a good position, but what Franco, Cupo and/or Hagdorn are capable of remains to be seen.

Both the council and BOE contests will also hinge greatly on turnout: it seems improbable that anyone besides die hard voters will hit the polls in this one.

Furthermore, since 2015, a slate is yet to sweep in the BOE, giving at least one independent a decent shot of making the cut.

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