ORANGE, NJ — Siaka Sherif, Brenda Daughtry and Derrick Henry were the winners of the Orange Board of Education election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, according to the Essex County Clerk’s Office.
Sherif received 2,779 votes, Daughtry got 2,445 votes and Henry came in third with 2,413 votes. Incumbent appointed board member Rhoda Irodia finished fourth with 731 votes, Hamza Agwedicham got 415 votes and Jarteu Israel rounded out the candidates with 311 votes. There were also 16 write-in votes.
Sherif’s short tenure on the board in the last eight months, since he was first elected in the March special election to increase the number of board members from seven to nine, per the new Type 2 District requirements, proved strong enough for him to be re-elected. The same is true for Henry, especially since he originally won the first school board election in Orange history on March 28, 2017, only to have those election results voided by Superior Court Judge Vena.
Henry didn’t run in the second Orange Board of Education special election that Sherif and Tyrone Tarver won; however, eight months later, Henry did run for one of the three full-term seats. Now that he’s won, he said it’s as if history has righted itself.
“They sued me out and the first election results were thrown out, because of the lawsuit from the Orange Board of Education’s special attorney, and we had no other recourse but the people, so the people stepped in and won more than was anticipated and that’s what got us to where we are today,” said Henry on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Orange City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting. “Blood, sweat and tears and namely the money out of my pocket. Nobody supported it. They didn’t think it would happen. You know, I hear God makes the impossible possible.”
Henry said he’s focused on his future as an Orange Board of Education member and helping chart the Orange School District’s future, but even after his victory, he had to reflect on how far he, the district and Orange has come in a short span of time.
“In the first election, there were 22 candidates, if anybody remembers that. It was like a big circus and then, when it got to the serious answers and the fact that you’re going to be accountable for three years and then the fact that you’re going to have to make coherent and cognizant decisions regarding roughly anywhere from $100-$150 million, that’s going to separate the cream from the milk,” said Henry. “History has been righted. What I intend to do is improve in transparency between the board and the people, because I am tired of questions being glazed over, forgotten or just justified on ‘I said so.’ When we’re elected and we’re answering to our constituency, the people deserve an answer and they deserve supporting documentation and I intend, in any way, shape or form fashion possible, to the best of my ability, to give that.
“I seek answers. I simply seek truth for the people because, for so long, we’ve been generationally dismissed. I seek peace for one of my running mates, Brenda Daughtry, who fought two years to finally get reimbursed from the school district in regard to her special needs child. I seek peace for the people, including myself. We were sued with our own taxpayer money in regard to the reason why they wanted to keep an appointed school district versus where we are at now: elected. That’s the reason I seek peace. Unfortunately, peace sometimes comes at the price of conflict. I am not afraid of conflict. I would rather have peace, but I am not afraid, nor am I a stranger to conflict in any way, shape or form. I seek for the betterment and furtherance of the people. I have always been that way, plus I still have a promise to keep to Bernice Henry. I said I was coming back to save the city. Funny what happens when children grow up to keep their promises.”
According to Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin “The district reorganization meeting is Jan. 7,” said Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin on Tuesday, Nov. 13. “And that’s when the new members take office.”