School board election change blamed for incumbents ouster | Paterson Times

School board election change blamed for incumbents ouster


The ouster of two school board members in Tuesday’s election is being blamed on the change of board of education election from April to November.

Neither Corey Teague nor Errol Kerr was able to secure the necessary votes to capture one of the three contested school board seats, largely they said, because of their ballot positions. Kerr and Teague were fourth and sixth respectively on the ballot.

The winners in the election – Kevin Michael Henry, Nakima Redmon, and Oshin Castillo – occupied the top three spots in the general election ballot.

“I think a lot had to do with the election being switched to November,” said Teague. He said the change resulted in an influx of voters who made random selections rather than informatively picking candidates.

“People lost sight of the school board,” said Teague. He cited the 2,600 plus change that resulted in victory for each of the three winners as if to suggest voters just picked the first three rather than making thoughtful considerations.

“I think the voters — I’m not being critical of them — did not quite understand the adjustment that was made two years ago to move the school board election from April to November,” said Kerr. He said when voters entered the booth they likely recalled the Democratic Party’s mantra ‘row a all the way’ and voted along that line.

After hitting the first three candidates, the fourth one wasn’t accepted by the machine, so voters hit the cast button, said Kerr. “So they go inside the poll voting ‘row a all the way’ and then because the school board is on the bottom they use the same mentality from left to right,” he said.

There was also confusion, said Kerr. Many voters were not able to differentiate between the different races that were on the ballot, he said.

The school board took a controversial vote in early September of 2013 to change the board of education election from April to November. The decisive vote to move the election was Teague. “Since I was the one that gave the deciding vote to switch it, I guess I got what I deserved,” he said.

Kerr received 2,156 votes and Teague got 2,107, according unofficial results. Redmon received 2,868 making her the highest vote-getter. The two incumbents lost by 500 or so votes.

Although Tuesday’s election saw the first three candidates triumph in the polls, the previous year’s November election was very different. The first candidate on the ballot Khader “Ken” Abuassab in the 2014 general election received 1,629, a good number, but not enough to win.

The second and third candidates on the line were Lilisa Mimms and Chrystal Cleaves respectively. Mimms won with 3,250 votes and Cleaves was victorious with 4,175.

Jonathan Hodges was seventh on the list. He won with 3,249 votes that year. Cleaves and Hodges were the two incumbents running that year.

Those who favored the move from April to November said the 2014 election results are proof that the board of education election change does not automatically mean victory for the first three individuals on the ballot.

Others point out Henry managed a victory because he was positioned first on the ballot. A deacon, who runs a re-entry program for former convicts, Henry did not campaign much nor did he attend any public forums that were attended by a majority of the candidates.

School board president Hodges also said the election change resulted in the ouster of Kerr and Teague. He praised both as fighters for city children.

“I don’t know what to make of it,” remarked Hodges. “The result is stunning.” He congratulated the three new board members on their win.

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