A fundraiser ticket for later this month reveals the three board of education candidates running on the Children First slate, the West New York Board of Education team supported by Mayor Felix Roque.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
According to a copy of the invitation, Roque and the West New York Board of Commissioners are hosting an event as Las Palmas on September 29 “to celebrate our endorsement of the 2016 Children First Team.”
The three-person slate is listed as Jose Alcantara, current Board Trustee David Morel and Board President Adam Parkinson and the ticket price is $150 per person.
The contact person on the ticket is BOE Trustee Jonathan Castaneda, who was elected as part of last year’s Children First team, and Board Vice President Damarys Gonzalez is listed as the treasurer for Children First (she was elected with the ticket in 2014).
According to at least four sources with knowledge of the situation, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, they were under the impression Juan Carlos Alvarado was originally slated to be on the ticket since at least early July (petitions for nomination were due on July 25).
However, Alvarado was replaced in favor Alcantara earlier this month upon the suggestion of Roque, the sources said.
Alcantara, who was beaten out by Morel for a board appointment in May, was an active member of Residents for a Better West New York in 2013.
The defunct community activist group played a pivotal role in getting an elected school board question on the ballot that year, which was of course ultimately approved, and generally opposed the Roque administration at the time.
Back in April 2013, Alcantara took the role of a community watchdog to some degree, including posting photos on Facebook claiming that then-Deputy Mayor Silvio Acosta – a current BOE trustee who is not seeking re-election in November – was driving a police vehicle.
“License plate number of the West New York Police [sic] vehicle that Silvio Acosta was driving,” he wrote on the April 23, 2013 post with this corresponding photo (along with several others).
Reached on his cell phone this afternoon, Roque spoke highly of Alcantara’s work ethic and character and downplayed the notion that Alvarado was ever going to do on the ticket.
“When I went to a board meeting and I heard this guy speak [in May], I knew him as Toby, [I thought he was] very qualified, a bright guy.”
“I have a lot of admiration for him since him and Frank Ferreiro took the initiative to get the petitions and push for an elected school board. I’ve seen him at work, I’m impressed with the job he’s done. I leaned a little more towards Toby because the other guy, [Alvarado], I didn’t know him from a hole in the wall,” the mayor said.
Roque added that “everybody was on board” when he suggested Alcantara to round out the Children First ticket, further stating “I consider him a good, educated person.”
The Children First team deferred comment to campaign manager Pablo Fonseca, who declined to comment ahead of an already scheduled Wednesday announcement from the team.