Before Losing Election by 1 Vote, School Board Prez Gave Parting Message

Emra Seawood (center) was re-elected last night to the city's Board of Education, according to unofficial results.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Whether Emra Seawood, the city’s school board president, meant the message as a rallying cry to set the tone for her next term is unclear. But the speech she delivered last night will likely go down as her parting words.

Seawood lost her bid for re-election to the board by one vote in yesterday’s contest, which drew 303 of New Brunswick’s 24,691 registered voters to the polls, according to unofficial results provided by the city. Challenger Yesina Medina-Hernandez racked up 156 machine and mail-in votes to Seawood’s 155, meaning the newcomer is set to win the three-year term.

The results aren’t official until the county says so. Incumbents Dale Caldwell and Patricia Valera, meanwhile, each managed to hold their seats for another three years. Diana Solis won a one-year stint, filling the remainder of a term left vacant after a resignation, in an uncontested race.

Sign Up for E-News

But last night, April 25, Seawood spoke passionately about perceived challenges facing the U.S. and New Brunswick Public Schools under President Donald Trump. As poll workers prepared for the 8 p.m. closing time, Seawood urged her colleagues to fight for public education, innovation and literacy during a Board of Education meeting.

“In this time of misinformation, alternative facts and the most recent disregard for evidence-based knowledge,” she said, “we need to refocus our efforts. Education is more sorely needed now than ever.”

Much of Seawood’s plea was rooted in her anti-Trump beliefs. She knocked the president for what she called his “disparaging comments regarding minorities” and “hate-filled, anti-immigrant rhetoric.”

She then bashed Betsy DeVos, who leads Trump’s federal Department of Education.

“This administration’s attack on public education has been unrelenting,” Seawood said, “and we fill will increase as the unqualified, misinformed head of the education department will try to achieve the goal of dismantling the public education system.”

From there, the soon-to-be-outgoing board president took on a more optimistic tone, championing the education system and how it has improved individuals and families.

New Brunswick residents must “step up,” she said, by keeping the system afloat and encouraging students to take advantage of their education.

For its part, the city’s school district will work to better its curricula and enhance its teaching, despite limited resources, Seawood said.

She pointed to Cuba—where Superintendent Aubrey Johnson recently visited during a study tour—as a place where unexpected innovation can be found. Selwood touted the impoverished country’s high literacy rates as a source of inspiration for New Brunswick, a largely low-income community in its own right.

To that end, the district should reach out more often to community members, to try to boost literacy in the area, she said.

“I question how much we value—truly value—what we have,” she said. “If so, we will double-down on our efforts to improve.”

The board president ended her speech to applause from the board and several people in the audience. It was a bow of sorts that seems likely to be her last as a New Brunswick school board member, at least for the foreseeable future.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - February 16, 2018


E STREET - While a tired nation is demanding gun control (yet again), Springsteen guitarist Stevie Van Zandt is having none of it. No stranger to political opinions, the New Jersey icon tweeted "What happened to us? We are averaging 2 school shootings per week AND WE DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!" Many tone-deaf politicians on Capitol Hill ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 15, 2018


TRENTON - As state lawmakers are set to announce a bill at 11 a.m. to decriminalize pot - an issue that has consumed the Statehouse -  the Record is reporting on an often-ignored issue: the state's ridiculously antiquated liquor laws. For example, supermarkets in the state can only have up to two liquor licenses, stemming ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 14, 2018


ON AIR - Gov. Phil Murphy had his very first "Ask the Governor" monthly program last night. He appeared on News 12 New Jersey to field your questions about all things New Jersey. Impossible to recap an hour segment. Of course, we will try: New Jersey should be a better place to retire. The state pension mess will be solved.

The Jaffe Briefing - February 13, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Perhaps Donald Trump is still ticked that New Jerseyans had no interest in his team, the New Jersey Generals, which played football in the now-defunct USFL. Or, perhaps he is angry we didn't frequent his now-defunct casinos in Atlantic City. Or, perhaps he is seeking revenge for the fact that 546,345 more New Jerseyans voted for ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 12, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Anyone who commutes by train should be laser focused on Donald Trump today. Not to capture the latest buffoonery, but because the President is unveiling his long-awaited infrastructure plan. Will this "master of the deal" step up and deliver the $15 billion of so that was promised for the Gateway Tunnel project? Or will he play ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 9, 2018


LEONIA - You can't make everyone happy. That's the message for Leonia officials, who solved one issue, and are now dealing with another. First, they appeased residents by blocking George Washington Bridge traffic from heading down 60 local streets. But now, as the Record reports, local businesses are breathing fire because, well, the ...

Don’t Blame Hurricanes for Most Big Storm Surges in Northeast

February 16, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Hurricanes spawn most of the largest storm surges in the northeastern U.S., right? Wrong, according to a study by Rutgers University–New Brunswick scientists.

Extratropical cyclones, including nor’easters and other non-tropical storms, generate most of the large storm surges in the Northeast, according to the study in the Journal of ...

Criminal Charges for Rutgers Student Protesters From $15 Min. Wage Campaign

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Police have issued charges to a dozen of the Rutgers University student activists who disrupted a public meeting in December.

The students, from the Rutgers chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops, disrupted the Dec. 12 Board of Trustees meeting as part of their campaign for a university-wide $15 minimum wage.

As the meeting started, students pushed through a rope ...

Rutgers-New Brunswick to Exhibit Papers of Sen. Frank Lautenberg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey’s longest-serving U.S. senator, left an outsize imprint on state politics and national policy by the time he died while in office, in 2013.

His papers, now curated and maintained by the Rutgers University Libraries, encompass 2,250 boxes of hats, buttons, campaign stickers, vinyl records, paper documents and other artifacts that, laid end ...

Verizon Features Vets4Warriors on FiOS 1 News

February 12, 2018

Fatima Aguilar’s first day on the job at Vets4Warriors was anything but normal. A military veteran serving as a Second Lieutenant with the New Jersey National Guard, she found herself in a potential suicide crisis situation as soon as she hit the phones.

“I started around three and a half years ago on the overnight shift, and my very first call was a US Marine veteran who was on a ...


Letter to the Editor: Low-Income Families Who Need Safe Cribs Have Nowhere to Go

February 15, 2018

One recent email came from a pastor in East Orange, sharing the struggles of a young couple who have no safe place for their baby to sleep.

Then, there was also a phone call from a Newark hospital, making its fourth request in two years, as well as a frantic text from Puerto Rico, for a family who lost everything in the hurricane.

They all pleaded for the same thing: A safe crib for a ...

Somerset Patriots Sign Frontier League All-Star RHP Randy McCurry

February 17, 2018

The Somerset Patriots have announced the signing of right-handed relief pitcher Randy McCurry for the 2018 season.

“I’m excited to play in the Atlantic League this year,” said McCurry. “It’ll be a transition for me but I am ready to face some really good competition and help the team win.”

McCurry enters his first season with the Somerset Patriots and ...