‘Together We Can’ slate re-elected to Bayonne school board

Incumbent Trustees Jodi Casais, Pamela Sclafane, and Melissa Godesky-Rodriguez won on Nov. 2

The three incumbent Bayonne Board of Education trustees up for re-election have held onto to their seats, according to unofficial election results from the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.

Trustees Jodi Casais, Pamela Sclafane, and Melissa Godesky-Rodriguez will remain on the Bayonne Board of Education for another three years. Running on the “Together We Can” slate, the three trustees beat out four other candidates including educator Gina Irizarry, former student representative to the board Petra Ghaly, former Trustee Charles Ryan, and newcomer Nicole Gabriele.

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It’s over

“Thank you to our friends, neighbors, and supporters for last night’s victory,” Casias, Sclafane, and Godesky-Rodriguez said in a joint statement. “We are committed to standing up for our teachers and students while protecting the taxpayers. The Board of Education needs to continue our progress in making Bayonne schools the best in the state. Thank you for your trust.”

Casais was first elected on a “Together We Can” slate in 2018, having helped see through the current teacher contract. Sclafane was appointed to the board to fill the seat of former Trustee Joseph Broderick after his sudden resignation in 2020. Godesky-Rodriguez was appointed to the board this past August to fill the seat of former Trustee Ava Finnerty following her death in July.

“It’s been a long couple of months but it’s finally over,” Casais said in a statement. “Thank you so much to everyone that voted for me, put their faith in me and for allowing me to be their voice. I’ve never been unresponsive as some say, but that’s just hearsay. Anyone who knows me knows I talk to everyone who has concerns and I do my best to address their concerns. I have no hidden agendas. I only want to do what’s right by everyone our school district affects. I only want to leave it better than I found it… Thank you to the 3,516 voters who put their trust in me. I promise you won’t be disappointed… And for those who are disappointed that we won, you know who you are, go kick rocks. We did it without your endorsement.”

“About 6 years ago I started this journey with the intention of being part of the solution and making sure we are doing everything we can for the educators, staff, and students,” Godesky-Rodriguez said in a statement. “I am beyond proud to be representing this community and will not let you down… I am very proud of the campaign I was part of. We stood focused on the issues, listened to the residents, and talked about what mattered most to the kids and teachers. I am proud of the ladies I ran with. I have worked hard for this and will continue to work hard for the next three years and more.”

Light purple shows districts where Casais had the most votes and brown show districts where Irizarry had the most.

Vote totals

Of the 416,742 registered voters in Hudson County, there were 115,165 ballots cast as of Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. That equals a 27.53 percent total turnout. In the Bayonne Board of Education election, 19,019 votes were cast.

Casais came in first with 3,516, Sclafane in second with 3,137, and Godesky-Rodriguez in third with 3,110. The slate largely swept the election, with the next closest vote-getter being Irizarry with 2,975.

Following Irizarry was Ryan with 2,618, Ghaly with 2,407, and Gabriele with 1,183. There were 73 write-in votes for those not on the ballot. These results remain unofficial until the county clerk’s office certifies them. Mail-in and provisional ballots continue to be counted.

Looking at a map of the results, it becomes clearer that the “Together We Can” won decisively but Irizarry was very close. Casais received the most votes in 24 districts across the First, Second, and Third Wards and was tied for first in two districts. Irizarry came in first in 12 districts across the three wards and was tied for first in two districts as well.

“I may have come in fourth but I am extremely proud of my results,” Irizarry said in a statement. “Losing by only [135] votes for a completely self-run campaign is pretty darn good. I worked very hard and so did the other indies at their campaign… I was winning until the mail-ins came in. The endorsed three-person slate each had 290 mail-ins, the independents did not have near that. That is an election strategy we need to learn. It is called ‘delivering the vote.’ Next season I will have that down.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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