WEST ORANGE, NJ — Despite a very close election with just two candidates, both of whom were challengers, as of midnight on election night, it appears that Ken Alper has obtained the sole open seat on the West Orange Board of Education. By midnight, only 34 of 37 districts had reported their results, yet Alper was the front-runner with a 10-percentage point lead. Alper will serve three years on the board, filling the seat being vacated by Laura Lab, who did not seek re-election.
Results remain unofficial until verified by the Essex County clerk, Christopher J. Durkin.
According to the unofficial results, with 92 percent of the votes tallied, Alper won with 4,035 votes, or 54.32 percent. His opponent, Chris Diaz garnered 3,375 votes, or 45.44 percent.
Of the 34 districts that reported in, 19 went to Alper, while 14 went to Diaz. One district, District 5-2, was an exact tie, with each candidate taking 50 percent of that district’s votes.
There were 18 write-in votes.
“It feels really great,” Alper told the West Orange Chronicle in a Tuesday night phone interview about winning the election. “I think our positive message to West Orange was received.”
According to Alper, while campaigning he met a large number of diverse residents and learned about their needs and he looks forward to working with them to improve the West Orange School District.
“I walked every section of West Orange,” he said. “I met everyone and learned what they need. I’m looking forward to serving my community and being a help to them.”
When he takes his seat, Alper, whose profession revolves around polling and survey analysis, wants to work on the channels of communication in the school district.
“I want to start working on changing the tone of all the conversations we have in town about the schools,” he said. According to him, the best way to do this is to foster constructive conversations between various stakeholders. He would like to hold small meetings to brainstorm with teachers and hold larger town hall meetings with the public throughout the school year.