Camden County certified the school board election — reaffirming wins for Education for Everyone candidates Nyemah Gillespie and Falio Leyba-Martinez, as well as Camden Votes candidate Elton Custis.
“I am thrilled that voters across Camden embraced our slate’s vision of a district that gives students more opportunities, parents more choices, and teachers more support,” Leyba-Martinez said in a statement after the results were certified. “Every candidate was a winner in this election because we all participated in the first election of a school board in Camden in more than a decade.”
The Nov. 5 election was the first publicly elected school board race since the state’s 2013 takeover, which included nine candidates competing for three open three-year seats on the nine-member board. BOE members serve in an advisory role to Camden Superintendent Katrina McCombs, but do not have the authority to vote or approve items.
After tallying vote by mail and provisional ballots, the Camden County Clerk’s Election Division verified that Gillespie earned the most votes overall - 99 more than previously reported for a total of 2,169. Leyba-Martinez’s garnered 1,833 votes and Custis earned 1,683.
Gillespie is the owner and director of the Dance 2 Dance School, while Custis works as a mental health specialist and drug and alcohol counselor with Jefferson Health System. Leyba-Martinez, a father of three and baseball coach, previously ran for an at-large City Council seat.
“The victory is part of a bigger story of a city that is trending in the right direction, with rising test scores, declining drop-out rates, and more high-quality school options for families,” Libya-Martinez said.
Two other candidates ran on the Camden Votes slate, which was backed by the local teacher’s union, the Camden Education Association: Cultivating Camden president Tyann La’Shae Wall and Camden County Technical Schools’ teacher, JeNell McRae.
Sharde Taylor, the campaign manager for Camden Votes, did not respond to calls for comment.
Custis’ margin of victory was 55 votes, with Wall earning 1,628 and McRae trailing just behind with 1,621.
The Education for Everyone ticket - which had support from the Camden County Democratic Committee - also comprised Troy Still, who earned 1,610 votes.
Aaron Cooper, who ran as an independent candidate earned the fewest number of votes with 729. Other independent candidates, Theo Spencer and Angel Cordero, earned 1,161 and 773 votes respectively.
With all 40 precincts accounted for, 13,253 votes were cast.
Public school board elections were restored following a 2018 referendum in which residents took back control from the state with a 62 percent majority.
In the City Council, Democrats earned a total of 5,449 votes. Shaneka Boucher had over 86% of the votes in Ward 1 with 1,322. In Ward 2, Victor Carstarphen earned over 75% of the vote with 1,449.
Ward 3 candidate Felisha Reyes-Morton (1,276 votes) and Ward 4 candidate Marilyn Torres (1,402) both ran unopposed.
Democrats also took the three open seats on the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, with Melinda Kane taking the unexpired term earning 61,637 votes. Incumbents Edward McDonnell and Carmen Rodriguez were re-elected with 59,038 and 59,138 votes respectively.