Two independents seek Hoboken school board seats

Patricia Waiters and former trustee John Madigan are running by themselves this year

Patricia Waiters (left) and John Madigan (right) are two separate independents running for the Hoboken school board this year. Photos by Mark Koosau;provided by John Madigan/Illustration by Terri Bish.

As Election Day nears in Hoboken, there’s been commotion in the city’s school board elections this year, especially between the two main slates running against each other. But there are also two independents running by themselves this year for one of three seats available.

Patricia Waiters, a local activist and perennial candidate, and former school board trustee John Madigan, are running as separate independents this year. Both spoke to the Hudson Reporter on what they plan to bring to the board if elected.

Patricia Waiters

Patricia Waiters is a local activist and a longtime perennial candidate in Hoboken, who’s run for numerous offices in the city and greater Hudson County. She’s currently a security guard for the city’s Board of Education.

“I’m going to continue to run because we need change in our education system here in Hoboken,” she said. “It’s a huge controversy going on; the charter schools fighting the public schools and private schools. I want us to have one quiet community and education for all our children.”

Her priority if she gets elected would be a change in the administration, saying that “the same thing’s been happening for the last 15 years,” as well as taking politics out of the school district. ”The whole thing with the school referendum even showed proof that there’s no transparency, no trust, and they have to go,” she said.

In light of the aforementioned referendum to build a $241 million high school that failed in January, Waiters said that she was neither for or against the referendum, saying that she didn’t like the non-transparency, and alleges that it was politically motivated.

“The governor’s race, the mayor’s race, all of that was around the same time as the referendum,” she said. “So they intentionally held that information from the public because it would have hurt their election.”

Patricia Waiters is a local activist and perennial candidate who’s giving it another go for the school board. Photo by Mark Koosau.

She also said that she wouldn’t support any plans for a future school facility, and that they instead need to fix the schools they have.

When being asked whether she supported or opposed what national Republicans and conservatives are doing to education in regards to what’s taught about race, gender and LGBT issues, she answered by calling it “discriminatory practices” and that she instead supports “my actions and my beliefs.”

“I don’t think LGBT, special needs, African Americans – we should not even have to be faced with this,” she said. “I’m almost ashamed to be sitting here today, talking about what was taking place in the ’60s. I’m seeing the same thing, because there’s so much animosity coming from both sides, both parties.”

Waiters is known to have run for numerous public offices in Hoboken and greater Hudson County, including for City Council, Mayor, County Freeholder (now known as County Commissioner) and County Executive, but has never won.

Waiters said that she is going to “always run, not because I’m crazy, not because I’m trying to be sarcastic; I’m being serious, I want to see change.”

“Nobody can control me, and I want diversity,” she said. “I want to see true diversity brought into my community, and without an outside big political boss coming in here, controlling our elections.”

John Madigan

John Madigan is a former school board trustee who served a single term from 2016 to 2018, and is giving it another go for his old job. He currently works as a supervisor at the Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City.

“I am running because after they had the big problem of the new school initiative, I see two different groups coming out for and against it without even thinking about the plan,” he said. “I just think [the district] needs people that know what’s going on and not people that just want to go against it.”

Madigan said his top priority if he gets elected in November would be to improve high school SAT scores and to get more students into college. “I think in the high school, I would like to bring back some electives, like having electrician and plumbing courses back in schools,” he said.

John Madigan is a former school board trustee who’s making a run for his old job again. Photo provided by John Madigan.

When asked whether he supported or opposed the referendum, Madigan replied that while he believes there should be another school, he thought that the proposed high school was “overpriced” and that they should instead focus on getting a new middle or grammar school.

If a new school facility plan comes up, he said that he would focus on being open to the public and make sure the board hears what the public has to say. “I think that was the thing, that it wasn’t vetted enough,” he said. “You gotta make sure the building’s gonna be used.”

When asked if he supported or opposed what national Republicans and conservatives are doing to public education, Madigan said that he opposes them and that it’s one of the reasons why he’s running.

“This is going back to Hitler stuff that these Republicans are doing, and this is why I want to run for the Board of Education,” he said. “Because I think if the one slate gets in, that’s what they’re gonna try to do; is bring those policies here to Hoboken.”

The slate he was referring to was the “Kids First” slate, which is led by Pavel Sokolov, an active Republican.

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.