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‘Change We Need’ slate sweeps Secaucus school board election

Leah Fanning-Farinola, Abigail Gonzalez, and Ruby Kish won on Nov. 2

The "Change We Need" slate from left to right: Abby Gonzalez, Ruby Kish, and Leah Fanning-Farinola.

The “Change We Need” ticket, consisting of Leah Fanning-Farinola, Abigail Gonzalez, and Ruby Kish, have been elected to the school board for three-year terms, according to unofficial election results from the Hudson County Clerk.

The slate, which was the only in the race, beat out seven other candidates including: incumbent Trustees Joan Cali and Mary Eccles; former Trustee Kelli D’Addetta; Audry Yule; Bill Miller; David Kraatz; and Alexander De Hombre.

Of the 416,742 registered voters in Hudson County, there were 119,575 ballots cast as of Nov. 5 at 12 p.m. Of those, 9,372 were cast in the Secaucus school board election. The results remain unofficial until certified by the county clerk’s office. Mail-in and provisional ballots continue to be counted.

“Change We Need” wins

The candidate with the most votes was Fanning-Farinola with 1,785. She was followed by Gonzalez with 1,647 votes, and Kish with 1,570. The slate decisively won, with the next closest candidate being D’Addetta with 1,240 votes.

“We want to thank Secaucus residents for voting for change!” Fanning-Farinola, Gonzalez, and Kish told the Hudson Reporter in a joint statement. “We won this election through a sheer grassroots effort that brought together a diverse cross-section of community members who believe in what we believe: that the Board of Education needs to listen to and engage with the community, that parental involvement matters, and transparency and communication are essential characteristics of an effective school board.”

They continued: “We did not win this election because of who we know, or based solely on the support of friends and family, we won this election because we connected with voters on the issues that matter to them and promised to use our backgrounds and experience to fight for change. Thank you Secaucus, we will not disappoint you!”

Red shows districts where Fanning-Farinola had the most votes and brown shows the districts where D’Addetta had the most votes.

Vote totals

Incumbent Joan Cali came in a distant fifth with only 982 votes. Next was De Hombre with 570 votes, followed by Yule with 481, Eccles with 468, Miller with 431, and Kraatz with 181. There were 17 write-in votes.

Looking at a map of the results, Fanning-Farinola received the highest votes in nearly every district, with the rest of the “Change We Need” slate not far behind. That is, except for two districts where D’Addetta had the most votes with Fanning-Farinola, Gonzalez, and Kish slightly trailing.

In the contest, the top three candidates with the most votes won the three seats up for grabs. Cali and Eccles were not re-elected. And the third incumbent, Trustee Barbra Strobert, did not seek re-election.

The two incumbents losses comes after the Board of Education voted to replace Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Montesano with Acting Superintendent Daniela Riser, marking an overall shift on the board.

The campaign was dominated by demands from the candidates, many of them parents as well, for more transparency and communication between the board and the community. Those being main themes of the “Change We Need” slate, it seems parents have voted and gotten what they wanted.

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.

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