Two slates will face off in Secaucus school board election

"For the Children" is pitted against "Keep Moving Forward"

In the upcoming Secaucus school board election on November 8, five candidates are seeking three seats.

The terms of incumbents Board President Jack McStowe, Trustee Kathy O’Connell, and Trustee Jayesh Patel are expiring. All three incumbents are not seeking re-election.

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“Jack, Jayesh and myself have decided to step down as Secaucus Board of Education trustees this year,” O’Connell said in a statement.

The move will see one third of the nine-member board be replaced by new trustees, including the seat of the long-time Board President. There are two slates of candidates running for the open seats.

‘For the Children’

Christina DeBari, Alexander de Hombre, and former Trustee Kelli Ann Conroy D’Addetta are running on the “For the Children” slate. Both de Hombre and D’Addetta ran in the 2021 school board election, with D’Addetta coming with a few hundred votes of winning a seat on the board under the same aforementioned slogan although independent of a slate.

D’Addetta is a former financial analyst who left to raise her children. Now a parent with her kids in the district, she holds and has held a number of positions including: both President and Vice President of the Clarendon School Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Vice President of the Hudson County PTA, and a member of the Safety and Security and School Uniforms committees, as well as a former Trustee on the Secaucus Board of Education. Volunteer ventures of D’Addetta include teaching at Immaculate Conception Church, and coaching softball and basketball.

As for de Hombre, he is a healthcare professional at Palisades Medical Center, a small business owner, a youth sports coach, and a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 87. His wife Sylvia has been the President of the Clarendon School PTA for the past few years, and they have two sons in the Secaucus School District.

DeBari is the 1st Vice President of the Secaucus Middle School Parent Teacher Association (PTA). The slate also has the endorsement of the outgoing board members.

“We feel that Christina, Alex and Kelli would be the perfect team to carry out our visions for the children of this town,” O’Connell said. “Please consider voting for them in November!”

‘Keep Moving Forward’

Challenging the slate is Nicholas Mattiello and Monica Berckes running on the “Keep Moving Forward” slate. Berckes is a mother of two children in the district.

Mattiello is currently a Manager of Product Marketing at Greenway Health, an adjunct professor at Brookdale Community College, and a volunteer firefighter. He is a life long resident, graduate of Secaucus High School, who has in the past worked as a 9-1-1 operator for the Secaucus Police Department, and now seeks a seat on the board.

Since the “Keep Moving Forward” is only running two candidates, the “For the Children” slate is guaranteed at least one seat on the board. Meanwhile, voters in Secaucus will also head to the polls to vote for seats on the local government board.

For the Town Council, three seats were up for grabs. The terms of First Ward Councilman John Gerbasio, Second Ward Councilman James Clancy, Sr., and Third Ward Councilwoman Orietta Turci-Tringali. 

The three incumbents are running together as candidates on the “Moving Secaucus Forward” slate. However, they are running unopposed, with no challengers.

The same thing happened last year when Mayor Michael Gonnelli and his council slate consisting of First Ward Councilman Robert Costantino, Second Ward Councilman Mark Dehnert and Third Ward Councilman Bill McKeever are ran unopposed for re-election. The incumbent mayor and his team sailed to victory without obstacle, Gonnelli now being in his fourth term.

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

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