Latest ‘Children First’ slate unveiled for Nov. 3 West New York BOE election


With the West New York Board of Education election less than a month away, the latest incarnation of the “Children First” slate has been announced – a team that pulled off a clean sweep last year. 

The "Children First" slate for the West New York Board of Education election: (Left to right) Jonathan Castaneda, Lorena Portillo and Almer Martins-Casadiego. Photo via Children First team.
The “Children First” slate for the West New York Board of Education election: (Left to right) Jonathan Castaneda, Lorena Portillo and Almer Martins-Casadiego. Photo via Children First team.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The ticket includes current Trustee Lorena Portillo, Almer Martins-Casadiego and Jonathan Castaneda, touting the slogan “for the community, from the community.”

In a joint statement, the team called for getting parents, teachers, staff and administrators more involved in children’s education, promoting a STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) educational model and expanding programs and activities – such as competitive sports – for students.

As Hudson County View previously noted, Portillo owned a daycare in town for seven years before it was shut down due to fire code violations – a matter she is hoping to resolve via a lawsuit.

“I have children in the district, and am a firm believer of education, so I feel I could be a help to the children and their families. I have experience helping families in the town through my business,” Portillo told us back in July.

Martins-Casadiego, who graduated from Memorial High School in 2008 before attending Ramapo University, is currently employed as a case worker for Hudson County Protective Services.

“As a proud product of the West New York School District, I feel it is my civic responsibility to give back to the town that gave so much to me. I want to ensure that our students receive the same, if not more opportunities than those that was I was granted when I was a student,” he said in a statement.

Castaneda, a graduate 2007 of Memorial High School and then Seton Hall University, has previously worked in the offices of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) and says he’s running for his brother – whose currently a student at Memorial.

“I decided to run for my little brother, for the children I want to have and raise in my town, and for all the opportunities, and for all the families who have found and will continue to find in West New York the opportunity they sought when they made the decision to leave their native homes,” he said in a prepared statement.

“I was a shy kid, it was hard for me to express myself and my teachers somehow understood my needs; they empowered me as I grew to understand my role in this world. The reason why I love to mentor kids from my community is because of my debt to my elementary and high school teachers – my successes are a result of their encouragement and guidance.”

Pablo Fonseca, who resigned as West New York spokesman last month, will serve as the slate’s campaign manager. He is also currently managing the Hoboken Ward 2 Council campaign of Peter Biancamano.

The West New York BOE election on November 3 has eight candidates seeking three, three-year terms in what thus far has turned out to be an uncharacteristically tepid race.

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