NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - If the Board of Education election was a referendum on the plan to raze Lincoln Annex School, New Brunswick voters sent a clear message that they're in favor of it.
Incumbents Dale Caldwell, Patricia Valera and Emra Seawood, running under the New Beginnings for New Brunswick Schools banner, have each won three-year terms in the city's first vote-by-mail election.
Caldwell, the vice president of the board, finished with 677 votes. Valera had 668 and Seawood had 647, a source has told TAPinto New Brunswick.
Linda "Lindy" Stork (327 votes), Reginald "Reggie" Parker (284) and Jad Kaado (254) ran under the Students First ticket.
Maria Concepcion Powell, the lone Republican candidate, finished with 123 votes.
The results are pending the county clerk's official announcement.
Stork, Parker and Kaado focused much of their campaign on the Board of Education's plan to transfer Lincoln Annex School to the New Brunswick Development Corporation. DEVCO will raze the 60-year-old school and build the state's first free-standing cancer hospital in its place.
As part of the $750 million plan, RWJBarnabas will build a $55 million replacement school on a vacant 4 1/2-acre lot at 50 Jersey Ave. identified by a steering committee consisting of Lincoln Annex parents, staff members, community leaders and administration.
Stork, Parker and Kaado often railed against the plan, voicing their opposition at City Council, Board of Education and Middlesex County Board of Freeholders meetings over the past several months.
They said that sending the Lincoln Annex students to the Pathways Campus on Van Dyke Avenue while the replacement school is constructed would have a detrimental effect on their education.
When contacted by TAPinto New Brunswick on Monday night, Caldwell, said, “I would first like to thank the New Brunswick voters that, in spite of the pandemic, took the time to send in their ballots.”
When asked about the hot-button issue of the Lincoln Annex School, Caldwell said, "The fact that the Caldwell, Seawood and Varela ticket won a landslide victory with about 67% of the vote means that residents overwhelmingly want to tear down Lincoln Annex and build a new $55 million school at no cost to taxpayers and that the Pathways School is a much better location for students transitioning to the new school than Lincoln Annex.
"My hope is that the supporters of our opponents will stop making unsubstantiated partisan personal attacks at school board meetings and work collaboratively with us to make the New Brunswick school district the best that it can be.”
Tuesday’s election here and in some 30 other municipal and school board races across the state were conducted entirely through mail-in votes because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing the need for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 105, pushing the April 21 election to May 12 and requiring it to be a vote-by-mail election.
TAPinto New Brunswick's phone message was not immediately returned by Kaado. Stork did not pick up when TAPinto New Brunswick called Monday night seeking comment.