ROXBURY, N.J. – Three political newcomers who failed to win seats on the Roxbury school board this month conceded their loss this week, opting against a recount request and congratulating the winners.
Lisa Millus, Peter Okun and Meredeth Soranno, who ran under a team named Accountability, Commitment and Transparency, (A.C.T.), agreed that Dan Masi, Carol Scheneck and Richard Alexander won the tight election.
The final tally for the election, including absentee and provisional ballots had Masi with 4,282 votes, Scheneck with 3,564 votes, Alexander with 3,385 votes, Sorranno with 3,380 votes, Okun with 2,666 votes, Millus with 2,742 votes and Joyce Ferraro with 1,756 votes.
Because only five votes separated Alexander from Soranno after provisional ballots were counted, both Soranno and Alexander figured a recount would be requested. But, despite the tightness of the results, Soranno is accepting the outcome.
“After working with the county on the status of the uncounted ballots, we have discovered no anomalies with the reasons for invalidation or the counts themselves,” said the statement, sent by A.C.T. campaign chairman Laurel Whitney. “So at this time, we would like to offer heart-felt congratulations to Dan Masi, Carol Scheneck and Rich Alexander for winning their seats on the Roxbury Board of Education.”
The three fledgling candidates said they were proud of the campaigns they waged and the number of votes they received, suggesting the effort was worthwhile.
“We hope that we brought more awareness of the issues to the community to encourage more participation in the board meetings,” they said. “The fact that there was less than 1 percent separating the 2nd, 3rd and 4th highest votes is an important indicator that the incumbents need to pay a lot more attention to the voices of the people. If we accomplish this much, we ALL have won.”
Alexander also offered an olive branch to the challengers, praised them for their interest in Roxbury education issues and thanked the public for voting.
“I’d like to recognize all the candidates who ran for the BOE this year, and thank Roxbury for giving me the opportunity to continue the positive work we have accomplished together over the last three years,” said Alexander. “The fact that we had seven candidates for a position that often goes begging in other communities is a testament to our town.”
Noting he’s lived in Roxbury for 24 years and was an “active community member long before” becoming a school board member, Alexander said, “listening to friends, neighbors and community members has always been, and will continue to be, how I approach not only my board work but my time in Roxbury.”
He said community input “has been the driver of many of our successes across curriculum; improved technology, infrastructure and security; building centers of excellence in Performing Arts & Special Needs Education; and remaining focused on driving success for all students in Roxbury.”
Alexander encouraged people in the township to “continue to share their ideas and positions” and said he looks forward to working with the board to accomplish mutual goals.
During the run-up to election night, the A.C.T. candidates had some harsh words for the incumbents. However, in acknowledging their defeat, they took a more conciliatory tone. “We would like to thank all of our supporters and everyone that came to our events, handed out brochures and placed our signs,” said their statement. “It was truly an honor that you placed your trust in us. Again, congrats and good luck Dan, Carol and Rich!”