BOE Candidates Debate Their Views at Unity Square Forum

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—For the first time in city history, candidates seeking positions on the powerful Board of Education spoke in the same forum, held last night by the non-profit Unity Square.

The six candidates seeking three open positions, including all three incumbents, answered eight questions submitted by audience members, in addition to giving opening and closing statements.  Video is available exclusively through

The questions covered topics including gang violence, parent involvement, student performance, and the city's poor graduation rate.

Vince Rifici, an active member of the Second Ward Neighborhood Block Club, served as moderator and Jason Rowe of Unity Square served as timekeeper.

The city switched to an elected board of education in a close vote last November.  Every April going forward, three seats will be up for election on the nine-member board.

This year, the three incumbents John Krenos, Benito Ortiz, Pat Sadowski are facing a coordinated challenge from city residents Martin Arocho, Sean Monahan, and Stephanie Rivera.  The candidate's forum marked the first time that any of the six participated in such an event in their careers.

More than 50 community members attended the forum at the Lord Stirling Elementary School auditorium.  Among those in attendance were current board of education president Ed Spencer, city council president Rebecca Escobar, city spokesman Russell Marchetta, mayor's aide Kevin Jones, director of social services David Blevins, 2010 mayoral candidate Patricia Bombelyn and at least three members of the city's democratic committee.

Spanish-speaking residents were invited to make use of electronic earpieces that facilitated live translation of the entire debate.

The election will be held this coming Tuesday April 16 from 7am-9pm.  All regular voting locations will be open for the election including several city schools.

Editor's Note: Sean Monahan is the co-founder and publisher of this newspaper.

Editor at New Brunswick Today | 732-993-9697 |

Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.