PATERSON, NJ – Manny Martinez, Corey Teague and Errol Kerr were the top three vote-getters in Tuesday’s Board of Education election, a contest in which 66 votes separated four of the six candidates.
Martinez coasted to the top spot, finishing with 1,756 votes, or about four hundred more than the other candidates. Corey Teague, who became involved in school district issues in 2010 when budget cuts eliminated crucial services for his daughter, came in second with 1,388 votes. Errol Kerr, the lone incumbent in the field, seemed to secure the third seat that was up for grabs with 1,375 votes.
Arleen Barcenas finished just 20 votes behind Kerr, with 1,355, while Joel Ramirez also was within striking distance, with 1,322 votes to come in fifth. Former board member Daniel Vergara came in a distant last with 796 votes.
The results remain unofficial and did not include provisional ballots.
“I’m very humbled that so many people came out to vote for me,’’ said Martinez, a former teacher. “Now the hard work starts. The first thing I’m going to do is contact all the commissioners.’’
Teague said he was sweating out the numbers as he and Barcenas were tied with more than three-quarters of the votes counted. Teague said he felt his advocacy for Paterson children carried him to a win. “The parents spoke out,’’ he said.
Kerr apparently won his third term on the school board, but not by a wide margin. “I didn’t have a lavish campaign,’’ Kerr said. “I didn’t spend a lot of money.’’
Kerr, who is chairman of the city’s Democratic Party, said his main campaign cost was the $200 he spent on palm cards. Kerr said he took no contributions. “I don’t want anyone else telling me how to make my decisions,’’ he said of his decision to take no donations. “When you do that, sometimes it gets close like this,’’ he added.
Two incumbents did not seek re-election. Board President Willa Mae Taylor is retiring, while Pedro Rodriguez is running for the 1st Ward city council seat in May.