Maini, Cuttle, Farfan win seats on the BOE

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SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — In an intense election that saw eight candidates running, the voters decided Nov. 6 to re-elect Annemarie Maini, and elect Shannon Cuttle and Javier Farfan to the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. Cuttle was the top vote-getter, with Maini, who ran a joint campaign with Farfan, a close second.

All results from the Nov. 6 election remain unofficial until certified by County Clerk Christopher Durkin.

According to the Essex County Clerk’s Office website, with 100 percent of districts reporting in, Cuttle garnered 6,910 votes, or 17.21 percent; Maini garnered 6,900 votes, or 17.18 percent; and Farfan garnered 5,660 votes, or 14.09 percent.

Following them was Narda Chisholm-Greene with 5,537 votes, or 13.79 percent; Michael Laskowski with 5,016 votes, or 12.49 percent; Bruno Navarro with 2,757 votes, or 6.86 percent; Marian Cutler with 2,649 votes, or 6.6 percent; and Christopher Trzaska with 1,840 votes, or 4.58 percent.

Additionally, when this election season started there were 11 candidates running. Although Felisha George, Avery Julien and James Wilkes all dropped out, they still earned votes. George received 1,589 votes, or 3.96 percent; Julien received 873 votes, or 2.17 percent; and Wilkes received 342 votes, or 0.85 percent. There were also 89 write-in votes.

Cuttle intends to hit the ground running as they serve their first term on the board.

“I’m both humbled and grateful for the incredible opportunity to work with colleagues on the Board of Education, administrators, staff, community stakeholders and, most importantly, our students in advancing our school district,” Cuttle told the News-Record in a statement on election night. “While the campaign is now done, the real work begins in building inclusive, welcoming and safer schools for all our students — a promise I made and intend to keep. My life’s work has been as an advocate for all students, especially marginalized students. To everyone who supported me, words can’t describe how grateful I am. For others, know I will work equally hard for all our students and hope to earn your trust as we move forward together.”

Despite being the only incumbent candidate out of eight remaining candidates, Maini has been re-elected to her second term on the BOE and is pleased to be able to continue her work on the board.

“It feels great,” she said about winning the election in a phone interview with the News-Record on election night. “Thank you to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly in pursuit of equity and excellence. I look forward to continuing my work on the Board of Education and meeting with all of you. I look forward to continuing this challenging and worthwhile work.”

Maini said she is looking forward specifically to continuing the board’s work to eventually bond for infrastructure upgrades and to create a comprehensive elementary integration plan.

Farfan was not contacted election night as, at that time, the election was too close to call, as he was only 36 votes ahead of Chisholm-Greene. For comments from Farfan, see the Nov. 15 News-Record.

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