SOUTH BRUNSWICK – A trio of newcomers has been elected to the South Brunswick Board of Education.
Raja Krishna, Mike Mitchell and Smitha Raj defeated incumbents Arthur Robinson, Deven Patel and Patrick Del Piano for three, three-year seats.
The vote tallies were certified on Nov. 20 by the Middlesex County Clerk’s Office.
Krishna received 9,678 votes. Mitchell received 9,414 votes. Raj received 7,593 votes.
Robinson received 7,026 votes. Patel received 7,016 votes. Del Piano received 6,756 votes.
There were 195 write-in votes.
Mitchell, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2018, said he was pleased this time around.
“The constituency I have gained over that short period of time is truly amazing. I had a solid base of supporters then, but I have gained so many supporters from the community who care deeply about public education as I do.
“I am most satisfied with the results this time around because I made it. I was not concerned about what position I finished in as long as I had the opportunity. The fact that I made it this time around demonstrates the community’s trust in my ability to execute the duties of a board member,” he said.
Mitchell would like the board to focus on becoming a more unified group while supporting the district through truly unprecedented times.
“I would certainly like to thank my teammates, Major Raja Krishna and Dr. Smitha Raj, for this opportunity to work together towards our goals. We had no way of knowing how this would end, but certainly enjoyed our time campaigning and interacting with the community when it was safe.
“Finally, last but certainly not least, I want to thank each resident for exercising your right to vote and selecting me to serve our community for the next three years. It is indeed a blessing and an honor for me.
“Remember that regardless of what we’ve been through we still have plenty to be thankful for,” Mitchell said.
Raj said she is overwhelmed by the community support.
“The campaign season was very challenging due to the pandemic. There were not many avenues where we could put ourselves in front of the voters. Opportunities to reach out to voters in person were very far and few in between. Thankfully we were backed by a group of passionate volunteers who gave it their all to reach out to their friends, families and neighbors,” she said.
She said her hope is that the board focuses on ensuring the delivery of high quality education, remote or otherwise, with the safety of the larger South Brunswick community in mind.
“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our large hearted South Brunswick community. Now that the election is behind us, it is time to get to work. Together we can make a difference,” she said.
Robinson thanked the community for the opportunity to serve as a South Brunswick Board of Education member for the past 12 years.
“I am looking forward to continuing my passion for public service by recruiting and aiding candidates to run for local and state public offices,” he said. “I will remember fondly the holiday concerts performed by our kids. And that I got a chance to serve as a member of the board during popular and unpopular times, thus ensuring that the education of our kids was always first and not second to none.”
He said he was pleased with the voter turnout in this year’s election.
“I felt that this campaign season was quite unique since the COVID-19 pandemic got campaigns to think out of the box instead of the traditional door-to-door campaigning, debates, and get-out-the-vote activities. However, in the future, I do believe that the casting of ballots will include a robust vote-by-mail. Emphasizing that the governor’s Executive Order to send out ballots to every registered voter in the state was great. Therefore, I believe that future voting will not be just at the polls and requesting absentee ballots. As a result of the governor’s Executive Order, voters exercising their right to vote was at an all-time high in comparison to past presidential elections in the state,” he said.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic will keep the Board “on its toes” with many challenges ahead.
“I strongly believe that a safe and healthy community is paramount for a quality, safe and healthy learning environment in the classroom,” he said.
The other candidates could not be reached for comment by press time.