CAMDEN, NJ — The candidates are set for the first public election of Camden school board members in more than five years, as the city begins the process of returning to a fully-elected board.

Nine residents filed petitions to run in the Nov. 5 general election for three initial seats on the Camden City School District Board of Education, according to an unofficial list from the county clerk. The deadline to file was Monday at 4 p.m.

Vying for selection this fall for the three-year terms will be:

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  • Aaron Cooper
  • Angel M. Cordero
  • Elton Custis
  • Nyemah Gillespie
  • Falio Leyba-Martinez
  • JéNell McRae
  • Theo Spencer
  • Troy Still
  • Tyann La'Shae Wall

Camden residents in the November 2018 general election voted by a wide margin to return the school board to one that is publicly elected. Sixty-two percent of voters answered ‘no’ to a question on the ballot: should the Board of Education remain a Type I School District with the members appointed by the Mayor?

The district transition from a Type I to Type II system -- a board fully elected by the public -- will take three years as the terms for the nine current board members expire in groups and go up for election.

This year, the vote will take place on the expiring terms of Board President Kathryn Blackshear, Dreu Tolliver, and a vacant seat. 

In 2020, the terms end for Martha Wilson, Wasim Muhammad, and a vacant seat. Then in 2021, the final three terms of N’Namdee Nelson, Theresa Atwood, and Carmen Otero will expire.

Even with the shift to public appointments, the board members will continue to serve only in an advisory capacity until the school district is returned to local control.

Camden has been under full state control since 2013. Under this system, the advisory board members do not have the power to vote on or approve any items on the district’s agenda.

But local advocates for a publicly-elected board believe that return voting power to the residents will bring accountability to the district.

Check back for updates related to the historic election, including candidate profiles.

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