Hoboken BoE prepares for election battle – in November!


Hoboken’s Board of Education is preparing for a critical battle at its next meeting likely seeing approval moving its annual spring election to November.  The change became possible with a law signed earlier this month by Governor Chris Christie.

The new law gives New Jersey education boards the option of moving their spring elections to November, saving local taxpayers money and offering a potential for more voters the opportunity to weigh in when larger numbers typically go to the polls.

The state and county government bear all the costs of November elections, unlike in the spring.

Last year, a back and forth chess match in the City Council on moving its elections from spring to November led to a referendum threatening to move them back to the spring.  The City Council later rescinded the move with the majority not sure how it would stave off a referendum in a low turnout election.  Unlike last year, 2012 is a presidential election year, and the polls will see many times the voters in a spring election.

The move to a November BoE election is available by approval of either the BoE board or a municipal governing body, in Hoboken the City Council.

Sources close to Hoboken’s BoE anticipate the State law will see action at its next meeting February 14th.  One BoE commissioner anticipating the law’s passage at the previous BoE meeting, Francis Rhodes-Kearns, spoke strongly against a November election saying any change should only come through a referendum.

Kids First holds a 5-4 majority on the BoE, enough votes to push through any change.

Theresa Minutillo of Kids First and a BoE commissioner stated via email, “It’s big news all around the state and so far I’ve heard that over 100 boards have already changed their elections to November and I’m sure more to come before the February 17th deadline.”

Frank Raia hugs BoE commissioner Peter Biancamano on Washington Street after Christmas.  He’s looking forward to the next election to take on the Kids First majority no matter if it’s in April or November.

Frank Raia and his “Independents for Education,” slate swept the BoE election last April and tensions have risen since with Old Guard fixtures such as Michele Russo and political operatives going to meetings and openly stating they are looking forward to overturning Kids First and replacing the newly hired superintendent Dr. Mark Toback.

Commenting on a potential move to a November election, Raia spoke matter of fact against the move saying, “I think it will be totally chaos if they move it.  The county’s picking up the cost, but I hear there may be two different machines… so they’ll be spending the same money.”

Speaking on the potential for a November election, something Raia opposed earlier for the City Council financing that referendum against the move, he added, “They (Kids First) have to live with what they do.  Are we better off now then we were three years ago (pre-KF majority)?  It’s not and no one believes it.”

The State has notified BoE’s across New Jersey they should approve a move by February 17th to ensure a smooth transition to a November election and suggested boards take advantage of the savings and increased voter participation with a November election.

The BoE election is designated non-partisan and will be located on a different section of the November ballot for this presidential year.  Existing terms would be extended to January of 2013.

While a November election is anticipated to pose a bigger challenge of voters to any Raia backed slate, the perennial candidate and former BoE commissioner added he was not concerned, “We’re going to win.  Not because we’re good, but because they’re bad.”

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