LETTER: Hoboken school board has been dismissive of Jan. 25 referendum results


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Kevin Davis articulates why he feels that the local board of education has been dismissive of the January 25th referendum results.

Dear Editor,

The reason why students learn about history in school is so we learn from the past. That is why it is concerning that members of the school board and key influencers have learned from wrong lessons from the failed January 25th referendum for a new $331 million Hoboken High School ($241 million plus an estimated $90 million in interest).

One of the arguments that they have used to dismiss the results of the 65%-35% lopsided loss is to claim that the results were affected by low turnout.

Here are some quotes from the aftermath of the referendum campaign from key influencers:

“While only 20 percent of the Hoboken community voted on Jan. 25, with the majority voting against the referendum, we have received valuable feedback from both supporters on the referendum, and those not in favor of the referendum, which will help us plan on the road ahead,” Hoboken School Board President Sharyn Angley said at the February 2022 Hoboken BOE meeting.

“There were 4,000 people that voted ‘No’ that were gonna vote that way regardless of what those clowns did. They don’t represent a single Republican I’ve spoken to including myself. The issue is not the 4,500 or so ‘no’ votes, it’s the 2,700 ‘Yes” votes. Given that there about 2,500 kids in the Hoboken Pub School district, this tells me that at best 1/2 voted (or voted Yes),” Michael Cademartori, the husband of the School Board Vice President Malani Cademartori, on Facebook in response to the Hoboken Republican Party’s support of the Vote No effort.

“This will literally end up having the same turnout as the November election. Claims of ‘voter suppression’ were totally unfounded,” School board candidate Leslie Norwood on Facebook on a thread about the referendum results.

Turnout for the referendum was low compared to other elections, which was by design.

When the school board voted to put a referendum on the ballot in January 2022 rather than in a November election, they voted to schedule the referendum for an election date where turnout would be low.

In the past, Hoboken had April BOE elections and May municipal elections. Those elections had a much lower turnout than the November elections. Based on other school district bond elections, we were expecting 8-10% turnout from registered voters.

That is why It was distressing to see Sharyn Angley dismiss the 20% turnout from the referendum, because even though it was low, it was much higher than usual for an off-cycle election.

Leslie Norwood’s dismissal of concerns about suppressing the vote with an off-cycle election date is also concerning because almost half of the voters who came out to vote in November (49.6%) didn’t vote in the January referendum.

For the November election, 36% of registered voters came out, which is much higher than the 20% for the January Bond Election.

Norwood was quick to make an incorrect judgment on the turnout from the January referendum, and now she is running for school board this November.

Lastly, Michael Cademartori’s dismissal of the election results is concerning for a few reasons. Mr. Cademartori is not an average private citizen, his wife Malani Cademartori is the vice president of the Hoboken Board of Education.

When my mom was a school board trustee in Westchester, NY, school board issues were frequently discussed at the dinner table. While my dad wasn’t on the school board, like Michael Cademartori, he had more information on school issues than most private citizens.

Mr. Cademartori’s comments should be concerning for several reasons. He dismisses most of the no votes, by saying that they will always vote no regardless of what is being proposed.

Then, he says that what made the bond fail was that not enough parents voted. What makes that claim problematic is that the bond supporters had aggressive outreach efforts to parents, and that many parents voted no.

Altogether, with the lopsided margin of no votes compared to yes votes, the bond failed because of substance not because of turnout.

If our elected officials and key influencers can’t understand why it failed, it’s a problem as they won’t be able to exercise sound judgment on future facility planning.

Kevin Davis
Hoboken resident

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  1. The people who set the referendum for dead of winter are now complaining about turnout?

    The turnout model was determined by these very board of eduction “representatives” who despised the public so much they were going to hand them a $340 million bill for their monument of shame in a

    Now they are whining when it was they who tried to pull this total scam on the public in an unheard of January election?

    The absolute gall of these people. So full of themselves, arrogant, condescending and an entitlement attitude they get to shove a bill in the hundreds of millions at Hoboken taxpayers.

    They deserve a swift kick in November at the polls.

  2. The residents of Hoboken made it very clear what they wanted and voted NO in the BoE funding referendum.
    Funny how quickly some far right Democrats become election deniers when the lose a vote in a landslide.

    • IF the BOE wanted a higher turnout, they should have shared the plan in the fall and run on that platform in November – instead they kept quiet and ran unopposed. Moving the vote to late January was a cynical attempt to suppress turnout, which instead made more people aware of, and angry about, the way the public had been manipulated. No votes broke 3 ways; some were angry about the process and lack of transparency, some could look past that but felt the plan lacked academic substance, and a very large segment would simply not accept the price tag — it was for them about the money. The system worked — the referendum got shot down (resoundingly), a few incumbents have chosen not to run and a new slate of candidates has emerged. Now we need a new plan…..

  3. Newcomers Leslie Norwood and Antonio Graña are going to claim that the mistake of the referendum was that the plan wasn’t perfect and that the communication wasn’t good. Don’t believe the hype, they are going to be another rubber stamp for Sharyn Angley if they get elected.

    • Throwing mud. Running negative. That means their buddies have no fresh ideas to move the district forward. All bout politics, not public education… another nasty Branco production. It’s an echo chamber of stupid here.

      • The HBOE elections are supposed to be non-partisan. Dr. Johnson’s HBOE and Team Bhalla’s understand that they can not convince the voters of Hoboken to approve a bloated school construction budget and are hoping that they can make it an us against them Democrat vs Republican issue.

  4. An off-cycle election is NOT “voter suppression” as Kevin erroneously claims, and Norwood’s statement was correct.

    Voter suppression is a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing SPECIFIC groups of people from voting; for example African Americans, or senior citizens, or any particular group.

    Off-cycle elections are generally LOW turnout, but are not targeting a particular demographic or political party. Therefore, the Jan 25 referendum was NOT designed to skew results by targeting any one group or party.

    Here’s a lesson for you Kev: motivated voters vote, whatever the cycle. Trying to smear opponents because you don’t understand what voter suppression is only makes you look stupid.

    • Hiding the plan and referendum during the 2021 campaign season and subsequently scheduling the vote in the dead of winter WAS designed to suppress every voter that doesn’t have children or doesn’t have children in the district school. The plan was to ensure that the 2500 ‘yes’ votes would carry the day and win a substantial victory while anyone that might oppose such a massive/expensive project would not even be aware of the special election.

    • A typical condescending remark from the BOE that is on the defense since they lost in a landslide vote.

      The BOE calculation that they had a much better chance of slipping a $300,000,000 budget increase passed the electorate when in early January when they knew historically such votes were low turn out.

      The HBOE system is clearly broken and relying on the hand picked camp followers of that broken system is not going to fix it.

      Time for transparency. Time for a real change.

  5. We should all be worried about how the interested parties dismiss the results of a democratic referendum. It highlights all the nefarious scenarios we had envisioned with how it was conducted. We have to start informing the residents of the options of the coming election so we throw out the pipe dreamers or even push for the regionalization of the school system of this town to lower their operation and administration costs. The state is providing financing towards that goal.

    • Hoboken residents and taxpayers in late December were unexpectedly handed a take it on leave it $300,000,000 addition to the HBOE budget with zero input and zero means to amend it. They rejected it.
      I full expect based on their past history that the HBOE will try to do that again.

  6. This nonsense about Kids First being Republican is a joke.
    Lets remember when Bhalla flirted with Republics to run for Assembly, Zimmer backed Chris Christie and called him a friend… until she could mince words and make headlines for herself, Cadematori and Angly are also devout CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS

  7. Pavel is a huge Trumper and this letter is a joke. The school board has learned their lesson from the referendum, and the next referendum to build a high school will pass with at least 60% of the vote. Those Columbus Park neighbors better sell their condos soon, because that high school is getting built.