WEST ORANGE, NJ - A week after the West Orange Board of Education election, provisional votes have placed Mark Robertson 89 votes ahead of Phil Orphanidis, and Chris Durkin, Essex County Clerk, is expected to certify the election on November 13.
61 provisional ballots were opened. 31 were for Sandra Mordecai, who already won re-election. Robertson received 21 provisional votes and Phil Orphanidis, 14.
The Essex County Clerk's Office, who certifies the election returns, was originally scheduled to open provisional ballots on Friday, November 8. That was postponed to Tuesday, November 12 at 1:00 pm and again moved to 5:00 pm on Tuesday, November 12.
The addition of the provisional votes and the approval of the West Orange Township Clerk's returns now sets the totals at:
Sandra Mordecai: 4497 votes
Mark Robertson: 3158 votes
Phil Orphanidis: 3069 votes
Phil Orphanidis and his 'aadvisor' former Mayor of Jersey City Jerry McCann, were allowed to count the votes on the machines as the County monitored them.
Orphanidis provided the Alternative Press with a concession statement of sorts:
"I learned a lot in this election and met a lot of great people along the way in West Orange; and with more than 10,387 votes counted, I lost by 89 votes tonight.
I'm a young man, and I leaned a lot about myself and West Orange in this election.
Both Democrats and Republicans supported me in West Orange, and that is something to be proud of in a first run at elected office.
I am ready to work with anyone to improve West Orange and fight for change in our hometown. This was my first try at elected office, and it will not be my last.."
Robertson provided the Alternative Press with a statement regarding his election.
Dear West Orange Community:
I want to congratulate Sandra Mordecai on a commanding win for her second term on the BOE! Sandra, I look forward to working with you and the BOE in serving our schools and community. I also want to congratulate Phil Orphanidis on an excellent campaign. You are both noble competitors!
I am humbled and grateful for every vote counted and every volunteer. For those who did not vote for me, I hope to earn your trust and partnership. This win is not about me…This win is the result of diverse communities, varying ideologies and united desires for excellence in education becoming manifest. This win is for our children’s future…for our parents’ support needs… for our town’s property values…for revenue generation and reduced reliance taxes while maximizing investment…this win is for you, SHAREHOLDERS in West Orange Schools.
I entered the race as a leader of a “Parents Coalition” and in response to parent requests. Parents made my campaign possible. We didn’t have a machine (unless you would consider a family sedan a machine). My workday ended after 7 or 8 most days, so I didn’t knock on many doors. We raised under $4,500 (a pittance compared to other campaigns), because many families are still feeling recession woes. At the same time, we had a wealth of volunteerism…volunteers from last year’s EMS Curriculum Committee, the “Parent Coalition,” West Orange for Math, PTA parents, Scout parents, and Mountain Top League parents. We had parents who worked 8 to 12-hour days and weekends, in addition to supporting their children’s many extracurricular, developmental activities. Still, they volunteered. We had parents who sacrificed time, energy and what donations they could afford. I thank Parents, who powered my campaign.
Additionally, I want to thank The West Orange African Heritage Organization, The Council of PTAS, The League of Women’s Voters, Gregory and Pleasantdale Elementary Schools “Meet The Candidates Night,” and 8-to-8 Barbershop’s “Shop Talk” for providing community forums for presentations and debates that raised awareness, allowed the public to engage candidates and candidates to voice their beliefs. I hope to see these future election events streamed live on the web, and rebroadcast on YouTube, or via video-on-demand to grow our audience and engagement.
Finally, I am grateful for the support of my wife and children, and know this experience has reinforced for my children that our family has strong educational values and community commitments. They know I did this for them, and for ALL WO kids.
We are addressing serious English Language Arts and Math issues, right now. I promise you that my advocacy will continue emboldened with renewed purpose. I pledge to continue to be a parent and child advocate for educational excellence, and a leader in securing the support, communication, administrative responsiveness, and tools that parents and children deserve, and require to succeed. Once active on the board, my first proposals to address these needs are:
1. Parent Survey and focus groups to identify issues and solutions to improve our parent/child client services in administration/execution of curricula and programs
2. Teacher Survey to secure critical feedback, insights and problem solving on curricula quality and implementation approaches. Teachers must be empowered to teach and improve our product
3. Student Surveys and focus groups – we need to hear from our clients
4. Development of Quality Assurance - Client Services Principles and Processes
a. Parent/Guardian/Advocate Problem Solving Feedback Form
b. Resolution Process with required time limit for Supervisors and Superintendents to respond in writing/calls
c. Parent check list of questions to ask, and academic supports to request (example: Enrichment Curricula).
You are the SHAREHOLDERS…I WORK FOR YOU! Your activism is essential to West Orange Schools’ and our Town’s success. TOGETHER WE CAN evolve West Orange into a premiere, best-in-class, academic leader. TOGETHER WE CAN!
Thank you from my heart.
All my best,
Mark A. Robertson