Hoboken Board of Education election tsunami sweeps the Mile Square

In an intensely fought Hoboken Board of Education race, the newly minted Parents for Progress slate stunned the Hoboken political world threatening to sweep all three seats before settling for two of three.

The unofficial but anticipated winners are  BoE-elect Monica Stromwall and Sharyn Angley who will join incumbent Peter Biancamano back to the board.  MSV called the race last night for all three winners before a final bump of Vote by Mail were added late but didn’t change the race’s outcome.

Even more stunning, the new education slate took two of the three BoE seats with less than 40% of the overall BoE vote. Provisional ballots are being tabulated by the county but are not expected to affect the finish.

The story of this election is the narrow victories in an eight candidate field. Incumbent Peter Biancamano emerged as the top vote getter when approximately 400 Vote by Mail ballots were added to his totals past midnight.

Party time: BoE trustee Irene Sobolov, City Council President Jen Giattino, BoE trustee Jean Marie Mitchell joined by education reform activist Liz Mulholland huddled for this photo celebrating the Parents for Progress victory.

The talk of this election will continue right through next year’s citywide ward races and how Parents for Progress emerged out of nowhere. Mobilizing a wider group of young parents, the slate managed to cobble a winning formula with reform backing shocking the status quo.

The contentious battle lines in the BoE with two Old Guard slates going head to head (and neck to neck) with Parents for Progress is evidently going to echo into the citywide ward races next year. Already the whispers are beginning all but announcing Second ward resident Peter Biancamano will be a contender for that ward seat. Beth Mason currently holds the seat but is attempting to navigate out of Hoboken, a path which has eluded her despite huge family checks to Democratic candidates and committees across New Jersey.

The story of this election however is how Parents for Progress claimed two BoE trustee seats picking up an inside straight. While celebratory, the winners are already voicing similar sentiments as before the election all Hoboken schools should work together for its students. The battle lines of charters eating away at the wider school district budget became a point of controversy earlier this year and and an ongoing lawsuit against the State approved expansion of the HoLa charter school clearly drove many voters into the polling booths.

Stromwall voiced reticence last week to continue the district lawsuit seeking to overturn HoLa’s expansion saying she would no longer support additional legal funding. Her running mate Sharyn Angley also voiced a different view saying working with Hoboken’s charter schools was an objective she sought. That late position coupled with the support of Mayor Dawn Zimmer won the day.

The Parents for Progress slate clearly means to follow through based on Stromwall’s comments last night, “I’ve always volunteered at Wallace but we want to see all students in Hoboken succeed.” Those remarks dovetail with running mate Sharyn Angley who also appears to be looking for a new cooperative formula. How their voices impact the Kids First majority will be a development observers will be keenly watching.

Over 5,000 Hoboken residents turned out to vote in the BoE race, a high figure which played into existing divisions amongst the Old Guard. Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia took on Frank “Pupie” Raia and made a strong challenge with the Parents for Progress ticket, driven largely by HoLa parents and Hoboken Housing Authority voters but in the end they fell short.  Brian Murray who has consistently attacked school performance of the district came closest in fourth place.

MSV called the race last night for the two Wallace School moms and incumbent Peter Biancamano who saw a clear challenge to the overall vote winner only succumb to approximately 400 Vote by Mail ballots arriving to his totals well past midnight.

The Vote by Mail in the fourth ward, a controversy that refuses to die with the “campaign workers” who no one expects will appear on any NJ ELEC report didn’t produce the desired result. Fran Rhodes Kearns received a bump elevating her (see MSV earlier stories below) over the 1900 vote total but the stunning across the board votes for all eight candidates meant she fell short.

All eight BoE candidates hit four figures and one losing candidate topping 2,000 which many will find unsettling. Patricia Waiters, backed by Carmelo Garcia made inflammatory and undeniable ethnically charged remarks earlier this year in front of Hoboken Housing Authority residents. To suggest the remarks were anti-Semitic is too mild, as others earlier read the racial rant which saw an apology followed with Waiters later renouncing it.

Add to that score, Waiters directed charges of racism against City Councilman and HHA commissioner Dave Mello who is a teacher in the South Bronx. It’s one of the features in this hotly contested race many Hoboken residents will find most disturbing.

Of course the funding issues with the State are not going to resolve themselves in the near term either.

Final tallies as we await outstanding provisional ballots but inclusive of Vote by Mail:

County revised figures as of 2:29 PM:

Board of Education – Hoboken
39/40 97.50%
Vote Count Percent
NP – Brian MURRAY 1H 2,097 12.48%
NP – Antonio GRAY 2H 2,080 12.38%
NP – Sharyn L. ANGLEY 3H 2,180 12.97%
NP – Peter BIANCAMANO 4H 2,522 15.01%
NP – Monica STROMWALL 5H 2,240 13.33%
NP – Patricia WAITERS 6H 2,006 11.94%
NP – Lynn DANZKER 7H 1,618 9.63%
NP – Frances RHODES KEARNS 8H 2,035 12.11%
Personal Choice 24 0.14%
Total 16,802 100.00%
It’s unclear what district if any votes of same is actually missing. MSV does not see it changing the order or results in the race for the winning candidates.

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