Incumbents retain seats on East Brunswick school board

Unofficial election results as of Nov.17 for East Brunswick's Board of Ed. GRAPH BY TYLER BROWN/STAFF
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Unofficial election results as of Nov.17 for East Brunswick's Board of Ed. GRAPH BY TYLER BROWN/STAFF

EAST BRUNSWICK – Incumbents Vicki Becker, Barbara Reiss and Jeffery Winston have retained their seats on the East Brunswick Board of Education, and will serve new three-year terms.

The trio faced off against each other and newcomer Denise Medford in an election that saw 26,814 ballots cast as of Nov. 17.

The race on Nov. 2 was competitive, with each candidate receiving at least 20% of all total votes. According to the Middlesex County Clerk website, Board President Becker accumulated the most votes with 7,238. Board members Jeffery Winston and Barbara Reiss received 6,796 and 6,487 votes, respectively. In Medford’s first-ever election, she received 6,114 votes. There were 179 write-in votes.

The results are current as of press time on Nov. 17. Election results are not official until certified by the county.

In statements provided to the Sentinel, Weiss and Winston expressed gratitude and shared their priorities and plans as they continue their tenure.

Reiss said, “I am thankful to our East Brunswick community members for their kind support in this election. It is an honor to have the opportunity to continue to serve our East Brunswick families and children as one of their school board representatives.”

She said she is aiming to create an inclusive school environment that strengthens the township’s educational foundation and enhances the social and academic experiences for students.

“My No. 1 priority as a school board member continues to be to support our district in its efforts to provide our students with a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn. That includes continuing to support the use of COVID-19 mitigation strategies in our facilities as well as promoting efforts to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of our students and school community. For example, our district is currently offering a series of online mental health learning seminars for parents featuring strategies they can use to assist their children in acclimating to school.

“I will continue to strive to be balanced and open-minded when considering proposals. I value research and look to hear from a variety of voices that represent all sides of a situation. I will continue to work diligently and cooperatively with my fellow board members to build upon past successes and discover new learning opportunities. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the educational system that provides our students the access to the tools they need to live successful and rewarding professional lives,” Reiss said.

For Winston, this election year presented challenges that limited his ability to campaign in-person, he said. To remedy the social distance between himself and residents, he used social media to connect with voters.

He said he is aware of the responsibility entrusted to him as a board member and affirmed residents that he will remain transparent and committed to his role.

“This campaign was quite different than the last 3 years ago. I chose to greatly limit face-to-face contact with the constituents. I relied primarily on social media and word of mouth messaging.

“I commit to remaining available and responsive to all stakeholders in the district. I will remain vigilant in asking the tough questions and truly understanding the issues that face our district before drawing any conclusions. Scrutiny and oversight are expected in my position, and I will do my very best to assure the district runs well …  and continue to demand that our administration exceeds and excels in their approach and execution of progressive ideas,” Winston said.

After the devastating effects of COVID-19, one of Winston’s top priorities is protecting the mental health of students and faculty by taking preventative measures to ensure that everyone has access to support.

“I have several goals during my term. The COVID virus has put a great mental strain on our students, staff and community. I intend to insist on mental health support for all stakeholders as we emerge from the pandemic. I will call upon our guidance department to become trained and aware of indicators and address as they arise. There will be a need to solidify a plan for facilities in East Brunswick and we must present a strategy to handle the potential influx of residents as our population is anticipated to grow,” Winston said.

Becker and Medford could not be reached by press time.