LIVINGSTON, NJ — According to the unofficial election results provided by the Essex County Clerk’s Office, incumbent Samantha Messer will retain her seat on the Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) and will be joined by newcomer Seth Cohen.
Cohen will take the seat of exiting LBOE member George Chen, who served on the board for the past three years.
Although the race was a tight one, the unofficial results determined that Messer and Cohen, each of whom ran an independent campaign, pulled ahead of Sasha Pailet Koff and Alyse Berger Heilpern. Koff and Heilpern campaigned together, hosting multiple meet-and-greets with residents at local establishments over the past few months.
Together, Messer and Cohen received 55 percent of the vote, with 2,278 votes (or 28.56 percent) being cast for Messer and 2,116 votes (26.53 percent) going to Cohen.
Koff tallied a total of 1,776 votes (22.26 percent) while Heilpern received 1,773 votes (22.23 percent), for a combined total of 45 percent, in comparison.
“To all our friends and family who were behind us all the way, we can’t say thank you enough,” said Koff and Heilpern in a joint statement. “We can put our heads on the pillow this evening and know that we ran a top-notch campaign. We have been involved in this community for years, and we don’t plan on going anywhere any time soon. We wish nothing but great things for our community and our schools.”
Messer has lived in Livingston for the past six years and was the only incumbent running in the 2019 election race. Her two children, Andie and Max, currently attend Livingston Public Schools. Click HERE to learn more about the re-elected board member.
“I am unbelievably flattered to earn your vote for a second time and I promise you I won’t let you down,” said Messer. “I am looking forward to looking at the mental health of our young people as our number one priority. I look forward to working with the administration, the teachers and the community to do what’s in the best interest of our kids.”
During her first term on the LBOE, Messer has served as the board’s acting liaison to the non-profit Livingston Education Foundation (LEF), a role designed to foster collaboration between local citizens who support educational opportunities for students and teachers and the Livingston Public School District and its administration. She will continue her work both on the LBOE and as liaison with the LEF during her second term on the board.
“The LEF recently received a donation so that teachers are now able to compete to receive up to $1,000 for projects and materials for their classrooms,” said Messer. “The leadership of the LEF’s Greer Gelman and Stefanie Lichtstein in conjunction with the support of Dr. Matt Block have made this exciting, new opportunity possible.”
Cohen, a Livingston resident since 2005, currently has a son at Mt. Pleasant Middle School and a daughter who turned 20 months old on Election Day. In tribute to his artistic daughter, Maya, who died when she was in kindergarten in December 2015, Cohen founded Maya’s Rainbow Foundation to help non-profit pre-schools provide funding for arts programming for children. Click HERE to read more about Cohen.
“Thank you for your trust and for this incredible opportunity to serve our community,” said Cohen. “As I promised throughout this campaign, I will listen, I will put our children first and I will strive to find the information to make sure we’re making the right decisions for our community every day. I’m excited to partner with the rest of the board of education and the administration to continue the important work of our district.”
Messer and Cohen will each serve a three-year term when they are officially appointed to the board in January 2020.
The election results will not be considered official until all mail-in ballots are counted and the final outcome is certified by the state.