Jersey City and Hoboken school board debates coming this week

The debates will come just before early voting begins in New Jersey

John Heinis of Hudson County View will be moderating both debates for the Jersey City and Hoboken school board elections. Photo by Mark Koosau.

As mail-in ballots are being sent and early voting is set to begin on Saturday, debates for the Jersey City and Hoboken school board elections will be hosted this week to give the public a view of the candidates before marking their ballots down.

The Jersey City school board debate will be held on Thursday, while the Hoboken school board debate will be on Friday, according to John Heinis of Hudson County View on Twitter.

The Jersey City debate will be hosted by Hudson Media Group and moderated by Heinis. He told the Hudson Reporter that the debate will be closed from the public and will be livestreamed on Hudson Media Group’s social media, as well as Hudson County View’s Facebook page.

The Hoboken debate will be held in-person at Demarest Middle School at 7 p.m., and moderated by Heinis and Peter Biancamano of The Pulse. It will also be livestreamed on Hudson County View’s Facebook page.

In Jersey City, eight candidates, consisting of two slates of three and two independents, are competing for the three seats available this year, with one being left open after Board President Gerald Lyons declined to run for reelection.

The first slate called “Education Matters” includes Trustee Noemi Velazquez, Afaf Muhammad, a Hudson County Democratic committeewoman, and Christopher Tislade, an educator who teaches in Englewood and Kean University. They are backed by the Jersey City Education Association union.

The second slate called “Change for Children” includes Trustee Alexander Hamilton, Doris “Toni” Ervin, a professor at Hudson County Community College and former candidate, and Kenny Reyes, a former City Council candidate and recruiter worker. The slate has received financial backing from real estate developers in recent years.

Running as independents are Isnel Sanon, who runs a tax service firm and was formerly with the NAACP, and Ahsan Nawaz, a real estate agent.

Hoboken also sees eight candidates vying for three seats on the board, with two being open after incumbent Trustees Sheillah Dallara and Joyce Simons declined to run for reelection this year, and also consists of two slates of three people and two independents.

The first slate called “Leadership That Listens” includes Trustee Alex de la Torre, Leslie Norwood, a board member of the Hoboken Public Education Foundation, and Antonio Grana, a member of the city’s Zoning Board.

The second slate called “Kids First” includes Pavel Sokolov, the secretary of the Hoboken Republican Party, Cindy Wiegand, a market researcher and former City Council candidate, and Donna Magen, a first time candidate who works in the hospitality industry.

Running as independents are Patricia Waiters, a local activist and perennial candidate, and John Madigan, a former one-term school board trustee.

The Hoboken school board is considered to be the most competitive after the failed high school referendum in January, and has now seen national politics interjected after the “Leadership That Listens” slate attacked the “Kids First” slate over having ties to Republican and conservative stances on school issues.

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