Two incumbents, newcomer win Freehold Township school board seats


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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Mary Cozzolino, Kay Poklemba-Holtz and Kerry Vendittoli have been elected to three-year terms on the Freehold Township K-8 School District Board of Education.

Cozzolino and Poklemba-Holtz are members of the board; Vendittoli is a newcomer who will join the panel in January.

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When the results were tallied on Nov. 6, Cozzolino retained her seat by receiving 6,066 votes, Vendittoli won a seat by receiving 4,109 votes and Poklemba-Holtz retained her seat by receiving 3,916 votes, according to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office.

Cozzolino, Poklemba-Holtz and Vendittoli emerged as the top vote-getters in a field of seven candidates. Incumbent Jason Levy, who joined the board in 2010 and is currently serving as president, received 2,918 votes, according to the clerk’s office. His term will end in December.

According to the clerk’s office, Richard Pelaia received 3,250 votes, Sherlock Dow received 2,320 votes and Brian Lipnicky received 1,943 votes. The election results are unofficial until they are certified by the county.

Cozzolino has lived in Freehold Township since 2011 and joined the school board in 2017.

“I am in awe of the support my campaign received from our community,” she said. “But I think the depth and breadth of the margin of victory is less about me and more about the community calling for a change. This is what I learned in the countless phone calls, text messages and emails I received, and the myriad of conversations I had with folks at their front door during the campaign.

“First and foremost, people want an education where teachers, not computers, lead learning in the classroom,” Cozzolino said. “The voters also envision a community which believes every child should have the tools and experiences they need to succeed. Finally, people have faith in one another, and they believe a more active dialogue between parents, community members and the school district make for a better education for our kids.

“I want to thank everyone who was part of the dialogue that took place this election cycle. I want to thank those who ran and those who supported other candidates. Thank you for being part of this process and for strengthening our community with your various contributions and civic engagement. Please continue to stay involved and share your passion. Our kids will be better for it,” she said.

Poklemba-Holtz is a physical therapist and currently a supervisor for outpatient rehabilitation for Hackensack Meridian Health. A lifelong resident of Freehold Township, she joined the board in 2003.

“Our children are our community’s future,” she said prior to the election. “We must educate the whole child in a strong foundation in reading, writing, reading comprehension, mathematics and science. Equally important, we need to promote and foster pillars of character that are taught at home and played out in our classrooms each day: empathy, kindness, integrity, responsibility and caring such that our children can develop emotional intelligence to become good citizens.”

Vendittoli is a senior teleservices account manager for a marketing company. She holds a degree in business administration and management information systems from Montclair State University. She has been a resident of Freehold Township for 14 years and has two children currently attending the district.

“I am so thankful for all of the support and hard work so many people put in to help me get elected to represent our community on the board,” Vendittoli said. “I am truly humbled by their faith in me and their commitment to the school district. Together we can continue the old Freehold tradition of putting students first, supporting our staff and encouraging community involvement.”

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