JACKSON – The race for four seats on the Jackson School District Board of Education has produced an outcome that will see four new members join the seven-member board in January.
Jackson residents had nine candidates to choose from to fill three available three-year terms on the board and two candidates to choose from to fill one available one-year term on the board in the 2021 general election.
The election was conducted with vote by mail ballots; with early in-person voting on nine days in late October; and with in-person voting on Election Day, Nov. 2.
According to election results posted online by the Ocean County Clerk’s Office, the three winning candidates in the race for the three-year terms are Erica Osmond, who received 6,646 votes, Tina M. Kas, who received 6,369 votes, and Guiseppe Palmeri, who received 5,311 votes.
Three incumbent board members who were running to retain their seats were not elected. John Spalthoff received 4,895 votes, Gus Acevedo received 3,336 votes, and Tzvi Herman received 2,326 votes, according to the election results posted online.
The other candidates who were running for the three-year terms were Akxsi Keegan, who received 2,532 votes, Jessica Edwards, who received 3,771 votes, and Megan Gardella, who received 4,032 votes, according to the election results posted online.
Kas, Osmond, Spalthoff and Allison Barocas, who was elected to a one-year term on the board, ran as a team.
Palmeri commented on the outcome of the election in a social media post in which he thanked the people who voted for him and said, “It is my greatest honor to have this opportunity to serve you and your children. … I know that everyone in this race ran with the children’s best interests at heart.”
He congratulated Osmond, Kas and Barocas, and said he looks forward to working with them and the other board members.
“For those that may not have voted for me, I encourage you to work alongside me. Let’s work together to provide all of our children and the children of Jackson the best education experience possible,” Palmeri said.
Palmeri told the Tri-Town News on Nov. 13 he is “beyond excited to have the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity.”
“While I was deciding to run last spring, I spent a lot of time thinking about what this would look like and how I could make a difference.
“Watching my children go through the Jackson School District, I knew this position would be one that would not only allow me to help my children, but to be a voice for other parents and children.
“That is my whole goal; to be transparent and to stick up for what the community wants. This was my first run for any elected official role and I am so humbled that Jackson chose me to be a representative for them,” he said.
“Moving forward, I plan to collaborate with other board members to create a robust education system that will bring our children to the next level.
“Tackling the budget and reassessing funds is another item on the top of my to-do list once my term begins.
“Overall, I am proud to serve the community and excited to work with the board and other stakeholders to set the future of Jackson up for success,” Palmeri said.
The election results are unofficial until they have been certified by the county.
Herman, who was listed last on the ballot among the nine candidates seeking the three-year terms, cited the candidates’ ballot positions for the outcome of the race.
“Virtually every year the top ballot positions win the elections. The ballot position for the Board of Education in Jackson really decides who is going to be victorious. There is very little visibility in who the candidates actually are,” Herman said.
He said the board itself has little visibility, with low community turnout at its meetings.
“There is not a lot of engagement in the broader community for the Board of Education,” Herman said.
The three individuals who received the most votes in the race for the three-year terms – Palmeri, Kas and Osmond – had ballot positions No. 1, 2 and 3. They were followed in order by Spalthoff, Keegan, Edwards, Acevedo, Gardella and Herman.
Barocas and BonnieSue Rosenwald ran for one one-year unexpired term that was on the ballot.
Barocas ran as a write-in candidate during a previous school board election in Jackson and Rosenwald was a member of school boards in Monmouth County before moving to Jackson.
According to election results posted online, Barocas, who was listed under Rosenwald on the ballot in the race for the unexpired term, received 8,975 votes, and Rosenwald received 4,556 votes.
The four new board members – Palmeri, Kas, Osmond and Barocas – will join incumbent board members Tara Rivera, Michael Walsh and Scott Sargent when they are sworn in to office during the board’s reorganization meeting.
The reorganization meeting is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 5 in the Fine Arts Center of Jackson Memorial High School, Don Connor Boulevard.
In a message posted Nov. 3, the Jackson Education Association said it had endorsed Kas, Osmond and Barocas for seats on the board.
The union said, “(We) know they will work hard for our students and our community. We welcome Giuseppe Palmeri to the board and look forward to having him work with our students and our community.”
According to the school district’s website, “The board establishes policies and administrative procedures for the Jackson School District’s daily operations. Board members fulfill three-year terms and serve the residents and children of Jackson without pay.”