Princeton school board election results are finalized

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When the last votes were tallied, Princeton voters returned two incumbent school board members to office and elected a newcomer to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education in the Nov. 3 general election.

Incumbents Michele Tuck-Ponder and Beth Behrend were re-elected, along with newcomer Jean Durbin, to the school board. School board member Jessica Deutsch did not seek another term on the school board.

Tuck-Ponder was the top vote-getter with 5,697 votes, followed by Behrend, who received 5,490 votes, and Durbin, who got 4,522 votes. A total of 29,297 votes were cast, including 106 votes for “personal choice” (write-in candidates), based on the final vote tallies released and certified Nov. 20 by Mercer County officials.

Tuck-Ponder, Behrend and Durbin were among eight candidates vying for three seats on the school board. The term is for three years.

Behrend said she was “honored by the trust and confidence of Princeton voters” who returned her and Tuck-Ponder to the school board.

“We can now turn our full attention to the many important initiatives that we, in collaboration with our board colleagues, have been working on to better meet the needs of all of our students,” Behrend said.

This includes choosing an experienced superintendent of schools to replace former Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane, who retired in June, Behrend said.

Also on the list is the infusion of racial literacy throughout the K-12 educational program, and the adoption of zero-based budgeting to ensure that every tax dollar is spent effectively, she said.

Durbin said she was “delighted” to have been elected to the school board, and expressed her gratitude for the time and effort that people took to speak to her, attend candidate forums and to compare the candidates on the issues.

“The issues remain the same as those I have campaigned on,” Durbin said, reeling off a list that includes hiring an experienced superintendent who has strong management skills and a demonstrated record of fostering the principles of equity, access and inclusion.

Setting goals, providing guidance and implementing policy to deliver the best education possible for students, and working to implement measurable steps to close the achievement and opportunity gap round out the issues on which she campaigned, Durbin said.

She also wants to find sustainable revenue sources and cost savings while adhering to the 2% tax levy cap.

“I would like my work on the school board to be inclusive and for the betterment of our schools and the community,” Durbin said.

Meanwhile, school board candidate Adam Bierman placed fourth among the nine candidates for the three school board seats. He earned 3,280 votes.

Paul M. Johnson received 3,129 votes, and his running mates – Karen Lemon and William “Bill” Hare, a former school board member – received 2,887 votes and 2,585 votes, respectively. Johnson, Lemon and Hair campaigned together on a slate.

Hendricks S. Davis received 1,601 votes.