The Jan. 28 election for two Board of Education seats in West New York drew 19 candidates, but one was rejected after filing late.
Voters approved the switch from an appointed board to an elected board in a referendum in November, and also approved the expansion of the board from seven to nine members.
In April, voters will return to the polls to vote on three seats to replace or retain those who currently occupy them. A fourth seat will also be disputed in April due to the resignation of Board President Adrianne Sires.
Although it is yet unclear if all of the 18 candidates who filed on Dec. 9 have met all of the requirements to qualify, the large field of candidates allows voters a wide choice. Several tickets have emerged, including candidates that are expected to get the endorsement of Mayor Felix Roque.
At least one ticket has emerged that is considered opposed to Roque.
Roque’s opponents are fueled by a damaging report published earlier this year by the New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance (OFAC) stating that Roque has been using his political influence to influence personnel decisions in the district.
This election and the one in April are seen as a test of Roque’s popularity in West New York after two years of turmoil and a federal trial in which he was pronounced not guilty of conspiring to hack into the website of a political enemy.
“My background and experience, in education and the law will enhance my ability to serve the community as a member of the Board of Education.” – Joan Palermo
Linda Cabrera, Ana Ceraveira, Matthew Cheng, Patrick Cullen Jr., Carol Durrant, Margarita Guzman, Hector Hernandez, Rosemarie Suarez, and Adel Worthington have filed to run for one-year term.
Dorinne Auriemma, Marie Bombio, Alcibiades Cifuentes, Melvin Collado, Wayne Cook, Leon Calixto, Joseph Martens, Joan Palermo, and Mark Quartello have filed to run for two-year terms.
Cheng and Palermo are running on a ticket called WNY Kids First, which is seen as a reform or anti-Roque ticket.
Palermo is a private practice attorney and former public school teacher of 16 years.
“I regularly attend town board and commission meetings and have experienced first-hand how the political process works and over the years, how this has negatively affected our schools and community,” she said in a release. “My background and experience in education and the law will enhance my ability to serve the community as a member of the Board of Education.”
Cheng, father and successful businessman founder/principal of eCoupons, Inc. of WNY, said he is running to get politics out of the school district.
“As a concerned father, I refuse to have the type of political oversight demonstrated by this administration play a role in my child’s chances of a promising future,” he said in a release. “Not only would my child benefit from the decisions made by qualified board members, but so would every child within the WNY educational system I will work hard to make a positive difference in the lives of our children and our community.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.