In a race that promises to be hotly contested, nine people have filed to run in the November election for four Board of Education seats. Three incumbents will defend their seats, while a fourth seat is also up because Board President Joel Torres is seeking a seat as a freeholder instead.
Board members Amy DeGise, Lorenzo Richardson and Gerald Lyons are running on a slate together, campaigning jointly for three year terms. In a pre-filing press release, the candidates collectively cited the effort to complete the process of transitioning Jersey City schools back to full, local control.
The candidates also pointed to the population growth in the city, the need to oversee the redistricting of city schools, and most importantly, to ensure financial stability in the wake of state of New Jersey cuts to the district’s adjustment aid.
“I’m extremely proud of the collaborative work we have done to tackle this final hurdle towards regaining full control of our schools,” said Lyons. “After 28 years of state-control, we have finally accomplished the milestones necessary to regain the trust of both the state of New Jersey and the taxpayers of Jersey City. I am proud of how we have been able to move our district forward and feel strongly that it is our duty to oversee this last step and ensure a smooth transition back to local control.”
Richardson agreed. “The state has entrusted this current board to not only receive control, but also oversee a smooth and responsible transition,” he said. “Our challenge now is to carry-out the transition in the wake of cuts to our state aid, requiring our district to be extra cautious with how revenues are generated and spent.”
“As the newest member to the board,” said DeGise, “it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the students of Jersey City at such an exciting point in history. As an educator, I understand what our classrooms need, but just as importantly, I know how financial insecurity impacts the classroom. While I’m pleased to see the city work with the district towards a solution for our loss in state aid, I will fight to ensure that our classrooms see every dollar possible.”
“While I’m pleased to see the city work with the district towards a solution for our loss in state aid, I will fight to ensure that our classrooms see every dollar possible.” – Amy DeGise
The trio said they are focused on ensuring every student in every school gets a high-quality education and receives the tools necessary to best prepare them for success in an ever-changing world. They recognize the fact that many factors have brought the district to this point, including the diligence of the students, parents, teachers, administration, as well as past and current board of education members.
DeGise, who is considered a public school advocate, has a Bachelor’s Degree from Montclair State University. She is employed as Social Studies teacher with County Prep HS.
Lyons is an educator for the Hudson County Schools of Technology, who has taught, studied, and lived in Jersey City for more than 30 years. He serves as the chair of the board’s Policy Committee and previously was chair of the Special Education Committee.
Richardson is a lifelong resident of Jersey City, husband and father, and has worked as an accountant for 25 years. He is currently president of the Hudson County School Board Association and is a certified board member with the NJ School Boards Association.
Some new faces this year
The independent candidates include Yousef Saleh, Matthew Schapiro, Mussab Ali, David Miranda, Demetrius Terry, and Chantal Goodwin.
Saleh, who is a board member for Farms in the Heights, has gone through the local school system, and is a graduate from McNair Academic High School and Rutgers University.
Schapiro is a strategic management and communications consultant living in Hamilton Park with his wife and three children. He made Jersey City his home nineteen years ago after graduating from Lafayette College. He ran unsuccessfully for school board in 2016.
Ali was part of an unusual ticket for school board in 2016, one of two 19-year-old graduates from local schools who hoped to bring their experience as students to the board. Recently honored for his work on the Jersey City Immigration Commission, Ali is a graduate from McNair Academic High School and currently attends Rutgers University in Newark. He is seeking to fill the one-year unexpired term of Torres.
Miranda originally considered a council run in Ward A. He served two tours of duty in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He works as a corporate risk manager. He is also seeking to fill the one-year unexpired term of Torres.
Terry, a graduate Seton Hall University with a degree in sociology, previously served as chair of the Hudson County Teenage Republicans and sought a council seat in Ward A in 2013. He is also former two-term Executive vice president of College Democrats of NJ. He is also running for a one-year term.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.