Jersey City BOE race will feature ‘Education Matters’ vs. ‘Change for Children’ vying for 3 open seats

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For the third year in a row, the “Education Matters” team will take on the “Change for Children” slate, with three other candidates with the potential to bracket together entering the race, in a year where all three incumbents are not seeking re-election.

The Jersey City Board of Education Headquarters at 346 Claremont Ave. Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Board President Mussab Ali is not seeking re-election due to ongoing treatment for Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, while Trustee Marilyn Roman is retiring, a former city acting mayor is retiring after 37 years of public service.

Their former running mate, Trustee Joan Terrell-Paige, has also opted not to be on the November 2nd ballot.

First time candidates Paula Jones and Younass Mohamed Barkouch will join Natalia Ioffe to form the latest incarnation of Education Matters, the team historically backed by the influential Jersey City Education Association.

Jones worked as an educator for the Jersey City Public Schools for 34 years before retiring, also serving as adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College, while Barkouch graduated McNair Academic High School in 2017 and Rutgers University this past May.

Ioffe unsuccessfully ran for office as an independent in 2016 and 2018, respectively, and is also an active member of the “Robateau Legacy” group, who are currently working on getting Gateway Park named after fallen Jersey City Police Lt. Chris Robateau.

This version of the Change for Children faction will feature three new candidates in Doris Toni Ervin, Erika Baez, and Thyson Halley.

Ervin is an instructor at the Academic Excellence ECE Training Center and Halley is a sign language Interpreter at The Phoenix Center in Nutley – he is also hard of hearing himself.

The three other fresh candidates are Vinesh Modi, Asad Dar, and Afaf Muhammed, and while they have the ability to run together, currently only Modi is using the slogan “Education Skills Matter,” according to the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.

All nine candidates are seeking three-year terms on the board.

In 2019, the BOE ticket was split 3-2 in favor of Education Matters, in what was deemed the most expensive race in state history.

The team teachers union affiliated with the teachers union saw money come in from the New Jersey Education Association, while Change for Children saw funding come in from LeFrak and Mack-Cali.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s race was far less combative/expensive and the JCEA pulled off a clean sweep with three seats on the line.