West New York slate of incumbent trustees sweeps school board election

Meanwhile, the school budget was rejected in North Bergen, par the course for the township

The "Your Children's Future" slate swept the competition. Photo courtesy of "Your Children's Future."

In North Hudson, three school districts held elections in April, including West New York, Weehawken, and North Bergen.

West New York

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In the West New York, the incumbent slate of three trustees running on the “Your Children’s Future” slate, including Jonathan Castaneda, Ana Sanchez, and Douglas Velasquez, were re-elected by nearly a 4 to 1 margin, according to unofficial results from the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.

This was the only competitive contest, with the trustees facing a challenge from the “Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Future” slate consisting of Dorinne Auriemma, Vipul Parekh, and Jose Valdez.

The town joined Weehawken and North Bergen in holding April school board elections starting in 2019. This means that if a trustee does not run again, a replacement must be appointed for a four month period ahead of the election, as was the case with Sanchez and Velasquez.

Velasquez got the most votes with 732, or 25.56 percent of the vote as of April 20. Castaneda got the second most votes at 723, or 25.24 percent of the vote, followed by Sanchez with the third most votes at 719, or 25.10 percent of the vote as of April 20.

The next highest vote getter was Auriemma, with 246 or 8.59 percent of the vote as of April 20. Auriemma was followed by Parekh with 225 votes or 7.86 percent of the vote, and Valdez with 214 votes or 7.47 percent of the vote as of April 20.

There were 5 votes for a Personal Choice candidate, or .17 percent of the vote. In total, there was 2,864 votes cast in the school board election.

The $171,100,853 school budget with no proposed increase to the local tax levy, which was supported by the “Your Children’s Future” slate, passed with 456 votes, or 76.77 percent of the vote. A total of 138 votes were cast against it, or 23.23 percent of voters choosing no. In total, 594 votes were cast and the budget passed by just over a 3 to 1 margin.

Following their victory, the “Your Children’s Future” slate thanked supporters in a statement on social media: “Thank you, West New York! A massive win for Your Children’s Future! The West New York voters spoke loud and clear!”

The “Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Future” also posted a message on social media following the loss: “The Column B would like to congratulate the winners of last nights election. We would also like to thank everyone who came out to support us. We may have lost, but don’t count us out. We will continue to be here for our residents and fight the fight whenever needed… Once again thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

West New York saw decent voter turnout, although still remarkably low, considering it was the only town with a school board slate facing a challenge.

Weehawken

In Weehawken, the “Continue the Progress” ticket won three year terms on the board won unopposed. The slate consisted of newcomers Marissa Dennis and Ildefonso Acosta, following the retirement of Francis Pizzuta and Susan Morales-Jennings choosing not to seek re-election. Trustee Julian Brian Mera was also part of the slate.

Mera got 439 votes, Dennis got 406, and Acosta got 409. There were 9 votes for Personal Choice candidates, or .72 percent of the vote. In total, 1,258 votes were cast.

In addition, Weehawken voters approved the $35,240,891 school budget, which included a two percent tax levy increase from $23.5 million to $24 million, by nearly a margin of 5 to 1.

The budget was approved with 342 votes, or 82.61 percent of the vote. There were 72 votes agains the budget, or 17.39 percent. In total, 414 votes were cast.

The election in Weehawken was relatively sleepy, especially compared to North Bergen.

North Bergen 

In North Bergen, the three incumbent Board of Education Trustees also easily won re-election unopposed. This includes North Bergen Board of Education President Luis Rabelo, and Trustees Patricia Bartoli, and Sai Rao. 

Rabelo got 2,298 votes, Bartoli got 2,285 votes, and Rao got 2,238 votes. There were 24 votes for Personal Choice candidates.

In total 6,845 votes were cast. This was the highest turnout of the three municipalities, despite the fact that the trustees were unopposed.

However, the $175,924,079 budget, which featured a two percent tax increase for property owners as a result of the local tax levy increasing from $52.1 million to $53.1 million, was shot down by almost a 2 to 1 margin.

Voters chose to reject the budget with 1,162 votes, or 64.27 percent of the vote. On the other hand, only 646 votes were in favor of the budget or 35.73 percent of the vote. 

Now, the budget will head to the North Bergen Board of Commissioners to make adjustments, likely spending cuts. Then, it will be returned to the North Bergen Board of Education for further consideration, something that has happened every year for some time. Residents generally vote the budget down in hopes that officials will cut it further, lowering taxes.

While the North Bergen Board of Commissioners met on April 20, there was no mention of the school budget. The subject may come up at the next meeting on May 11 at 11 a.m. in the municipal chambers at Town Hall at 4233 Kennedy Boulevard. For more information, go to northbergen.org.

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.