Board to decide on April elections date

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Seven residents are on the November Election Day ballot for three Bloomfield Board of Education seats and time is running out for the board to decide if it wants to keep its elections in November. At a special meeting Thursday, July 18, the board discussed returning to April elections, but the talks were inconclusive. In 2012, the state gave school boards the option to move elections from April to November to avoid election expenses and a public vote on school budgets.
Since 2013, Bloomfield BOE elections have been in November.

The board has until Monday, Aug. 12, to notify Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin of a return to April elections. But before that notification can be given, the board must hold a special meeting, which would require a 48-hour public notice, and then have an affirmative vote by the board for the change. That meeting must be held this week.

Aug. 12 is also the date the ballot positions of the candidates will be drawn by Durkin. The candidates are the three incumbents — Jill Fischman, Ben Morse and Lillian Mancheno — and challengers Satenik Margaryan, Emily Smith, Dan Anderson and Laura Izurieta.

In the July 18 special meeting, a concern was the propensity of candidates drawing the top three ballot positions to gain board seats.

But Fischman presented election results from 2007, six years before the board changed to November elections. Voters, she showed, have picked the school board candidate in the No. 1 ballot position every year since 2007, with position Nos. 2 or 3 also selected, and in years 2013 and 2015-2018, all three of those ballot positions won board seats.

Her evidence lent no credence to the claim that school board elections in November were politicized because partisan elections occurred the same day.

Should the board schedule a special meeting and vote for a return to April elections, all 2019 BOE candidate petitions would become void. A concern for those on the board desiring April elections is that support could be lost in the upcoming November elections as easily as 1-2-3.