Six candidates will bid to fill three seats on Holmdel school board


HOLMDEL – Three three-year terms on the Holmdel Board of Education will be on the Nov. 5 election ballot. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The six residents seeking the seats are Lori Ammirati, Joseph Hammer, Jaimie Hynes, John Martinez, Michael Sockol and Elizabeth Urbanski.

Ammirati and Sockol are incumbents seeking re-election.

Hammer has lived in Holmdel for 18 years. He served on the Holmdel Board of Education for six years and served as board president for two years. He is also a retired Air Force officers and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hynes is a mother of four who has lived in Holmdel for 15 years. She is a certified elementary school teacher, a coach with the Girls on the Run organization and serves on the board of the Holmdel FC soccer organization.

Sockol has served on the Board of Education since 2010 and is seeking his fourth term on the board.

Sockol has been a Holmdel resident for 18 years and served on several town and county advisory boards before being elected to the School Board in 2010. He has worked in the communications business for over 35 years, taught public relations writing classes at New York University, earned a black belt in martial arts, and is a playwright.

Urbanski is a lifelong Holmdel resident. She owns and operates the Elizabeth A. Urbanski Associates, Inc art advisory firm. She serves on the board of trustees of the Monmouth County Historical Association and has taught Art History at Brookdale Community College.

Ammirati and Martinez did not respond to inquiries before press time.

Each candidate was asked to discuss issues that are important to their campaign and how they would address each issue, if elected.

Hammer said he is focused on Expanding Career and College opportunities by improving student’s college preparations by providing SAT/ACT prep courses
and expanding career concentrations by partnering with business leaders on internships, keeping taxes low and improving Holmdel’s rankings and retain students.

Hynes said, “As a parent of four Holmdel students, former educator and committed volunteer throughout Holmdel School District and community, I have experienced, in-depth and in-person, the critical issues facing Holmdel schools. Holmdel deserves the best, and I will continually push for excellence, ask the tough questions and demand thorough and transparent answers. My experience as a teacher and guidance counselor in neighboring school districts uniquely positions me uniquely to bring a fresh perspective to the School Board. In my previous positions I have worked closely with school administration, staff and the State Department of Education to address issues faced by other districts during my employment. This experience, along with my empathy for each child, are needed to face our District’s challenges. I look forward to working together with our community to secure quality education in the safest environment possible for all of our students.”

Sockol said, “After serving almost 10 years on the Holmdel school board, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that will continue to be relevant in the years ahead. First, you can’t get things done by yourself. You need open-minded, independent voices who are willing to collaborate and compromise. I’m proud of our past achievements, including an ambitious program to upgrade our facilities, our introduction of all-day kindergarten, and our successful negotiations with teachers to establish a rotating schedule at the high school. Second, you learn to be flexible when times demand it. Frankly, I never imagined a day when we would need armed security officers in our schools, but after a tragic decade filled with school shootings around the country, I joined with my colleagues to make sure we did everything we could to provide a safe and secure school environment. Third, school excellence begins with fiscal prudence. When I joined the Board, the district had lost budget votes twice in three years. In the years that followed, we re-built public trust, delivering budgets at or below the state-mandated 2% cap, while building maintenance reserves, reducing energy costs, and securing outside funding resources.”

“I learned one more valuable lesson many years ago. When I was growing up, my dad was a general contractor, who liked to use his four sons as cheap labor. The tasks seemed endless, so I often asked my dad when we could go home. He always said the same thing. ‘We work until the job is done.’ When we asked voters to support our recent referendum, we were also asking you to trust us to make sure the job gets done. I take seriously my responsibility to make sure that happens. The completion of the Holmdel 2020 initiative isn’t an end, but a new beginning as we tap into the full potential of our new academic and athletic facilities.”

Urbanski said, “I am running for school board to improve transparency, accountability and excellence across the whole district. As the school district focusses on data driven analysis, the parents of Holmdel need to be fully informed of everything we are learning and the outcomes of this. School decision making that affects our children can be opaque and I feel strongly that parents are better advocates when they are informed advocates. I will push for accountability to parents. In recent years, we have experienced issues involving school safety and communication to the parents and children on this has not been as fully forthcoming as it should have been. Timeliness and clear communication are essential. Another concern is the standards that are applied when making critical decisions about our children’s educational options, as these choices have life-long effects. I will push for greater accountability not only on how decisions are made but also to study the outcomes of those decisions. The most recent US News and World Report article places us at 106th in the state out of a list of 350. We need to understand what the reasons for this ranking are and what needs to be done to raise our score.”