Longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges secured re-election on Tuesday night. Former school board member Kenneth Simmons regained a seat. And challenger Joel Ramirez captured a seat in the eight-person school board race.
Hodges (right) received 4,443 votes. Simmons (left) received 4,738 ballots while Ramirez (center) got 4,476 votes, according to unofficial election results.
Incumbent school board member Chrystal Cleaves fell short. She came in fourth place with 3,729 votes.
Challengers Fannia Santana, Joyed Rohim, Sebastian Mejia, and Andres Scott also fell short. Santana received secured 2,752 votes. Rohim received 2,241. Mejia got 1,340. And Scott received 977 votes.
Santana ran a spirited campaign attending community gatherings and putting up campaign signs throughout the city well ahead of her opponents. She and Ramirez failed to attend 2 out of the 3 candidate forums.
Mejia dominated the three candidate forums often providing well-crafted answers to questions.
Rohim ran a low-key campaign. His failure to attend candidate forums to share his platform with voters put him at a disadvantage, according to political observers. His association with councilman Shahin Khalique, who appointed Rohim to the Paterson board of adjustment, also did not help his cause. Khalique won in an election last year that was marred by widespread voter fraud. He survived a court challenge.
The city’s school board election this year was overshadowed by other races. There was very little campaigning on the part of majority of the candidates.
Incumbent Lilisa Mimms did not run for re-election. She is hoping to secure one of the three available at-large city council seats in next year’s municipal elections. She was closely allied with Hodges on the school board.
Hodges commands a faction on the school board that is at odds with that of school board president Christopher Irving’s bloc. Irving and his allies have been attempting to remove Hodges from the school board for years.
The defeat of Cleaves leaves Irving’s faction slightly weak on the board.
The unofficial results reflect almost 90-percent of the votes counted. The count does not include provisional ballots, but does include mail-in votes. There were more than 1,200 mail-in ballots cast by late Monday afternoon. This is much higher than the 1,086 mail-in votes cast four years ago when there was a governor’s race. Rohim is said to have made an attempt to secure the most mail-in ballots.