Jersey City Board of Education President Vidya Gangadin, as well as Vice President Marilyn Roman, are seeking re-election in the November 3 race, while candidates Gina Verdibello and John Reichart will join the fight for three seats on the board.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Gangadin and Roman were elected to their respective positions on the board in a tense January meeting, and have both shown a willingness to work with the Jersey City Education Association (JCEA) since – for example, voting in favor of their new contract last month.
Gangadin, who was elected to the board in April 2011, is a mother of four and was very active in parent-teacher organizations prior to being elected.
Meanwhile, Roman, a mother of two, was elected to the board of education in April 2012, generally viewed as an clear-cut choice for the board given her 32 years of service as an educator in the district.
Roman hasn’t been shy about speaking up when the situation calls for it, pointing out the fact that Hedge Fund Manager David Tepper and Goldman Sachs Chief Diversity Officer Edith Hunt contributed to the Jersey City Fund for Excellence and Equity back in December.
She also claimed that Tepper and Hunt helped fund the New Leaders Inc. Aspiring Principals Program for the district, which came with a cost of about $60,000 per participant.
Additionally, Gina Verdibello, a mother of three, put her name on the ballot for last year’s November 4 election, but ended up losing out to the JCEA-endorsed “Education Matters” ticket of Lorenzo Richardson, Joel Torres and Gerald Lyons in the crowded eight-person field.
Verdibello was running with Richardson and Lyons as part of the Children First slate, but lost momentum in the race when the teacher’s union supported Richardson, Torres and Lyons.
A constant presence at Jersey City BOE meetings, who also participated in the protest regarding the union contract negotiations, Verdibello says she is “qualified” enough to “deserve” a chance on the board.
“I feel like I’m qualified. I’ve been very active, speaking at the city and state level, advocating for the children of Jersey City – which will continue whether I’m elected or not. I feel like I deserve a spot on the board,” Verdibello, a strong advocate of parent’s choice as it pertains to schools, told Hudson County View over the phone.
Finally, John Reichart is an employee of city-based real estate company Silverman – which is the same company that would potentially redevelop city hall and two neighboring properties, per The Jersey Journal.
Also a former president of the Historic Downtown Management Corporation, Reichart is regarded as a strong ally of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.
Reichart has never previously sought an elected position in Jersey City.
Trustee Sangeeta Ranade, who served as the board president prior to Gangadin, will not be seeking re-election.
All four candidates are seeking a three-year term in the November 3 Jersey City BOE election.