Incumbent-backed school board candidates win easily in 3 North Hudson races


The incumbent-backed school board candidates won easily in three North Hudson races today: North Bergen, Weehawken, and West New York.

Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The result in North Bergen was a foregone conclusion, as Board President Kanaiyalal Patel ran alongside Trustees Claudia Baselice and Luis Diaz unopposed. All three candidates exceed 2,400 votes, according to tallies from the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.

The public question that asked voters if they wanted to approve a $55,392,688 budget for the next scholastic year was defeated by a margin of about 57-43 with 2,486 votes cast.

This effectively sends the spending plan to the board of commissioners – a move that is commonplace in North Bergen.

The results in Weehawken were also academic, with Board President John Cannata joined Trustees Linda Cabrera and Richard Pinal in running without challengers. Each candidate hovered around 550 votes.

All of the trustees running in North Bergen and Weehawken were elected to three-year terms.

Their township voters had two public questions: the first to approve a $24,673,264 budget for 2023-2024 scholastic year and the second to approve a $18,759,000 bond, the majority of which (about $12.5 million) would go towards renovating Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

Weehawken High School would receive approximately $3.4 million, while the Theodore Roosevelt and Daniel Webster Elementary Schools would each net about $1.4 million.

The budget passed overwhelmingly, by a margin of about 88-12, though only 731 votes were recorded overall. The bond was approved by an even bigger margin, roughly 90-10, with just 720 total votes cast.

Weehawken school officials have said this bond will effectuate a school reorganization, where the Wilson would serves Grades 1-3, Webster would be for pre-k 3 and 4, as well as kindergarten, with Roosevelt taking on Grades 4-6.

Additionally, Weehawken High School would expand to teach 7th and 8th graders. The reorg would likely not happen until 2025.

Finally, in West New York, the only contested race, the “Your Children’s Future” team backed by mayoral candidate Albio Sires and his slate won easily.

Trustees Sandra Pfeil and Aylen Jover, along with Police Lt. Henry Codina, easily won three-year terms. They all exceed 1,000 votes, while the fourth place finisher, Brandon Fontanez, received 205.

Jenny Garcia received an even 200, while Julissa Zubiaga had 138 ballots cast in her favor.

Their other running mate, Stephanie Gonzalez, another first time candidate, ran unopposed for the one-year term and was the highest vote getter with 1,105.

Finally, their public question to approve a $18,636,109 for 2023-2024 sailed through by a margin of approximately 78-22 with 744 ballots cast.

The Hudson County Clerk’s Office indicates that the three municipalities combined for just slightly under seven percent voter turnout, with 4,985 ballots cast out of 71,392 registered voters.

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  1. The turnout for the West New York Board of Education was only 6%. Traditionally West New York has had a leading Abbott School District Education Program. Number 1 in the state . Our schools are professionally managed and staffed by highly qualified educators many which are also dedicated civil servants. Politics will always be part of a public school system because fortunately democratic elections are competitive and politicians need personnel to assist them in getting out the vote and economic resources to invest in getting the word out with costly publicity. That takes money. There is nothing wrong with that. That is what a democracy is. A landscapes of competition where as long as rules are not broken everything goes. As the political operative that I once was , having served as a committeeman for Albio Sires, for Sal Vega, and for Felix Roque I was able to mingle with many excellent educators that were also excellent civil servants , to use a better expression. Some people who knew me well were cognizant that I had three graduate degrees , 2 from Seton Hall and 1 from Kean, with a very respectable GPA. Others, that didn’t know any better had low expectations of me due to my insatiable appetite for local politics at the time and my lack of mobility due to chronic leg injuries from my younger years spending too many hours in the basketball court and not receiving the necessary medical care. That’s another story. I am now a retired educator and a retired operative so I can give myself the pleasure of being impartial and objective. Let me put my experience in local politics and my cognitive skills together to predict that the arrows in the quiver are being saved for this once in a lifetime generational election pitting an outstanding politician who has been behind the scenes in all matters of local politics but away from the streets against a young upstart who has been in the streets which is all the support he has gotten for these elections. The voices in the streets versus the powerful voices in the political establishment. The incumbency is a favorite to win these elections but my instincts tell me that they will be a close election nothing resembling the trouncing we saw from the Board of Education results and the turnout will be nothing comparable to the 6% turnout we saw for the Board Elections.

    Anyway, if I am wrong with the expectations then what else can be expected. I’ve been away for more than a few years. If my statements on this narrative hold water. Just don’t come calling. I don’t take sides now. I am everyone’s supporter on the local level as long as they continue to move West New York forward. . Like we used to say. May the best team win and just give it all you’ve got on Election Day.