NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Voters will be able to cast votes for up to three candidates in the April 17 school board election, as well as decide whether or not to approve the school district's proposed budget.
In a seven-way race for three open seats, incumbents Edward Spencer, Diana Solis, and Ronald Hush have been conspicuously quiet throughout the campaign.
All three incumbent board members did not respond to an invitation to participate in a candidate's forum held by Unity Square on April 12, and one—Ronald Hush—has not attended a Board of Education meeting since February.
Meanwhile, challengers Jad Kaado and Nancy Love teamed up to build support for their upstart campaigns, hosting several "meet the candidates" events in recent weeks—including one with fellow insurgent candidate Jerry Mercado.
Mercado is making his second run at a school board seat since the city started holding school elections in 2013.
That year, Mercado lost to Hush and Solis, who was then known as Diana Fajardo, in an election that was later investigated by the Attorney General's Office after this newspaper revealed that Hush and Solis had submitted their candidate petitions after the advertised deadline, giving them an unfair advantage.
Their running mate, New Brunswick Recreation Director Edward Spencer, shielded Hush and Solis from our pointed questions about the irregularities during his time as Board of Education President.
Spencer is one of several current Board of Education members whose tenure dates back to the era when the city's Mayor was allowed to appoint the entire board. He has been on the board since 1994.
Also on the ballot is Yesenia Medina-Hernandez, running for the third straight time. She almost won last year's election in what would have proved to be a historic upset, but the election was ruled a tie after the losing incumbent filed for a recount and an additional vote was discovered.
NEW BRUNSWICK BOARD OF EDUCATION CANDIDATES
#1A – Edward Spencer
Colony House resident
#2A – Diana Solis
Wilcox Road resident
#3A – Jad Kaado
Renaissance Lane resident
#4A – Nancy Love
Comstock Street resident
#5A – Yesenia Medina-Hernandez
Jersey Avenue resident
#6A – Jerry Mercado
Pennington Road resident
#7A – Ronald Hush
New Street resident
Voters can vote for up to three candidates of their choosing. They can also write-in the names of their own candidates, using the electronic voting machines or paper ballots.
The three candidates with the most votes will be sworn in to the Board of Education in May.
Voters will also be asked one yes or no question: whether or not to endorse the school district's annual budget. If a majority of voters who decide on the question vote against the budget, it will be subjected to cuts to be made by the city government. If a majority of voters who vote on the question endorse the budget, it will remain unchanged.
It is not mandatory for voters to decide on the question, so there are three options: Yes, No, and not voting on the question.
You must be registered to vote in the City of New Brunswick to cast a ballot in this school board election.
Voters can confirm their registration or pin down their polling location at the Division of Elections website or by sending a text message to 877877.
Anyone who goes to a polling station who is denied the right to vote the normal way—with an electronic voting machine contained in a booth—is entitled to vote on a provisional paper ballot which will be counted if your registration is valid.
Polls are open from 7am-8pm, and no one eligible should be denied the right to vote if they are waiting in line at 8pm.
Polling locations are as follows:
- First Reformed Church, 9 Bayard Street
- Hungarian Heritage Center, 300 Somerset Street
- Lincoln School, 66 Bartlett Street
- Lord Stirling School, 100 Redmond Street
- New Brunswick Board of Education Gymnasium, 268 Baldwin Street
- New Brunswick Housing Authority Office, 7 Van Dyke Avenue
- New Brunswick Middle School, 1125 Livingston Avenue
- Providence Square Senior Housing Complex, 217 Somerset Street
- Public Works Garage, 400 Jersey Avenue
- Redshaw Elementary School, 216 Livingston Avenue *NEW VOTING LOCATION*
- Roosevelt School, 83 Livingston Avenue
- Rutgers Labor Education Center, 50 Labor Center Way
- Senior Citizens Resource Center, 81 Huntington Street
- Woodrow Wilson Elementary, 133 Tunison Road
Polls close at 8pm. Please visit our Facebook page for up-to-date election results this evening.
Editor's Note: The author of this article is a volunteer with the campaign of Jad Kaado and Nancy Love.
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.