Eight candidates file for Jersey City school board election

This year two incumbents are running, while a third has declined

Trustees Noemi Velazquez and Alexander Hamilton are running on separate slates this year. Photo illiustration by Terri Bish via screenshots from the School District of Jersey City on Facebook.

Eight candidates have filed to run for this year’s Jersey City Board of Education election, which features two incumbents running for reelection and the current board president deciding not to run again.

Trustees Noemi Velazquez and Alexander Hamilton, who were both first elected in 2019, are running for reelection on separate three person slates, with two independent candidates also filing to run, according to the Hudson County Clerk’s office.

Meanwhile, Board President Gerald Lyons has decided to let his tenure expire at the end of this year.

Velazquez and Hamilton had run under the “Change for Children” in 2019, but the two are running against each other this year, with Velazquez filing to run under the “Education Matters” slate, and Hamliton running under his old slate.

The “Education Matters” slate includes Afaf Muhammed, a Hudson County Democratic committee person and a former independent candidate from last year, and Christopher Tislade, a public school teacher in Englewood, according to his LinkedIn page.

Hamilton’s “Change for Children” slate will see him run with Doris “Toni” Ervin, an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College who also ran on the same slate last year, and Kenny Reyes.

Running as independents are Isnel Sanon, the CEO of of Sanon Global, a tax service firm, and formerly with the NAACP, and Ahsan Nawaz, a real estate agent at Weichert.

Board President Gerald Lyons has declined to run for reelection this year. Photo by Mark Koosau.

This year’s elections looks to be another battle between “Education Matters”, which has been traditionally backed by the Jersey City Education Association union, a branch of the statewide New Jersey Education Association, and “Change for Children”, who has financial backing from a number of real estate firms.

Lyons plans to exit the school board after accumulating almost nine years of tenure. He was first appointed in 2012 to serve the remainder of a vacated term and won a full term in 2014. He then lost reelection in 2017, but was appointed again in 2018 and won a full term the year after.

He was appointed as board president this year, becoming the first openly gay person to lead a nine-member body that oversees the second largest school district in New Jersey.

“This is my ninth year doing it and it’s been an incredible learning experience and I am really grateful I had this opportunity, but I think it’s time I let some other people go in and try their luck at it,” said Lyons via the Jersey Journal.

Lyons guided the board through a $973 million budget for the upcoming school year that included a $1,611 tax increase per household. He and Velazquez had voted to adopt the budget, while Hamilton had voted no, citing throughout the budget process his opposition to the tax increases.

The board had also recently appointed Dr. Norma Fernandez to serve as the school district’s full time superintendent, after having served in an interim role in the wake of the retirement of former Superintendent Franklin Walker.

The elections for the school board will be on Nov. 8, with the ballot drawing taking place on Aug. 15.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.