NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–In what will be the fifth school board election in New Brunwick's history, voters may decide who is on the school board, or maybe not.
It depends whether anyone decides to run against the three incumbents, who said they plan to run for election or re-election in the April 19 election.
In order to run, school board members must get at least 10 signatures from registered voters in New Brunswick on a special candidate petition. The deadline to submit petitions is 4pm on Monday, February 29.
According to the NJ School Boards Association, the requirements to run for and serve on a NJ school board include:
- Be able to read and write
- Hold U.S. citizenship and one year’s residency in the school district
- Be registered to vote in the district before filing the nominating petition
- Have no interest in any contract with, or claim against, the board
- Not hold office as mayor or member of the municipal governing body or, in the case of county school districts, the county governing body
- Not simultaneously hold two elective offices
- Not be disqualified from membership for the conviction of certain crimes.
Within 30 days of election or appointment to the board, a member must undergo a criminal history background investigation through the state Department of Education.
New Brunswick is the only community in Middlesex County that holds its school elections in April, separate from the partisan political offices elected in November's "general" election. In recent years, many towns have switched to November elections, but now some are switching back to April.
The city switched from a Board of Education (BOE) appointed by the Mayor to an elected school board in 2012, and the annual elections were scheduled in April by default.
In 2013, six candidates ran for two newly-created BOE seats in a highly questionable election, and another six candidates vied for three openings on the nine-member board.
But since then no one has challenged the incumbents in any of the annual elections held in April.
The incumbents who plan to run again are current BOE President Patricia Sadowski, longtime member Benito Ortiz, and newcomer Jennifer Shukaitis.
Sadowski and Ortiz were appointed members before they were elected in the contested April 2014 campaign. Their running mate John Krenos resigned from the BOE in 2015, and the Board chose Shukaitis to replace him from among five people who had submitted their resumes.
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 an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.