The candidates of a slate backed by Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and charter school advocates were voted in by a wide margin in the Newark school board election on Tuesday, the first ballot contest since the return of local control after more than two decades of state control.
The Moving Newark Schools Forward ticket, comprised of Yambeli Gomez, Dawn Haynes, and Asia Norton, swept the three board positions up for grabs. As it has been in previous years, voter turnout was a low 5 percent. The North Ward and Central Wards generated the highest turnout with 5.8 percent each while the East Ward generated the lowest at 2.9 percent.
With 99 percent of the vote counted, Haynes, the PTO president of Harriet Tubman Elementary School and an Air Force veteran, was the highest vote getter, garnering nearly 27 percent of the vote. Norton, a kindergarten teacher in Newark who has a master's degree in education from Columbia University, received 21.3 percent of the vote. Gomez, a legislative aide for Newark Municipal Councilman At-Large Eddie Osborne who was previously a labor organizer, received 19.2 percent of the vote.
“Today, Newarkers voted to move our schools forward," said Michele Mason, the executive director of the Newark Charter School Fund, which backed the winning slate. "I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work with the newest members of the school board to ensure the 55,000 children of our city received the high-quality education they deserve. Again, congratulations to our new school board members.”
The citywide campaign was managed by Samuel Gonzalez, who also serves as the chairman of the North Ward Democratic Committee.
This year's school board election is significant because of a major move as to who controls the direction of the Newark school district, which serves 55,000 students. In September, the state Board of Education voted to return local control to the district, which had been state control since 1995.
The vote came after it was determined that the district had made significant progress and had satisfied the regulatory requirements of QSAC, or Quality Single Accountability Continuum, the state Department of Education's monitoring and district self-evaluation system used for public school districts.
Since the return of local control on Feb. 1, the district has been led by Interim Superintendent Robert Gregory, who was appointed by the school board in January.
With 99 percent of the ballots counted. Winners in bold.
|Candidate||Votes||% of Vote|
|ChÈ J.T. COLTER||1,018||5.24|
|Barbara Anne TODISH||141||0.73|
|Asia J. NORTON||4,149||21.34|
|Ward||Reg. Voters||Ballots Cast||Percent|
Source: Essex County Clerk's Office