Orange Clerk’s Office draws ballot positions for special election

Photo by Chris Sykes
Orange city clerk Joyce Lanier and one of her employees display the board depicting the ballot positions for the candidates in the upcoming Board of Education special election on Tuesday, March 14, following the drawing that took place in City Hall on Friday, Feb. 3. According to Lanier, the election is still on track and scheduled to take place.

ORANGE, NJ — Orange city clerk Joyce Lanier held the drawing for ballot positions for the March 14 special election for two new Orange Board of Education seats in City Hall on Friday, Feb. 3.

“There are two terms: an eight-month term and a one year and eight months term. Now that the ballot drawing has been cast, we have to wait for official note from the county for what comes next. But, as far I know, there is an election on March 14, 2017,” Lanier said.

Lanier is not usually involved in BOE elections, however, she agreed that there are special circumstances regarding this special election, and she was asked to handle the ballot drawing.

According to Lanier, the ballot results of the ballot drawing for the shorter term are: 1, Derrick Henry; 2, Pat Arthur; 3, John Lagell; 4, Fred Vandermeer Jr.; 5, Mia Garrett; 6, Francenria E. Moore; 7, Courtney J. Thomas; and 8, Tisa Singleton.

The ballot results for the longer term are: 1, Anthony P. Johnson; 2, Thomas M. Wright; 3, Tyrone Tarver; 4, Celeste Newell; 5, Hashim Garrett; 6, Marie Y. Celestin; 7, Terri A. Jackson; 8, David Wright; 9, Elroy A. Corbitt; 10, Rachel G. Archelus; and 11, Melissa Kollar.

But the ballot drawing occurred before BOE-hired special attorney Stephen Edelstein filed a petition on with the state Department of Education on Friday, Feb. 3, seeking legal injunction to stop the changeover from a Type 1 board format, in which board members are appointed by the mayor, to a Type 2 format, in which board members are directly elected by voters.

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, David Saenz, the press secretary for the NJDOE, confirmed the BOE had filed paperwork regarding the special election and the changeover from an appointed board to an elected board.

According to Frank Belluscio, the deputy executive director and director of Communications for the New Jersey School Boards Association, “the process of transitioning from a Type I appointed school board to a Type II elected school board following voter approval of a referendum” is a “process” that is “based on New Jersey statute, N.J.S.A. 18A:9-4 et seq., N.J.S.A. 19:60-1.1., and N.J.S.A. 19:60-2.”

According to state statutes, “If the appointed board of education had less than nine members, the size of the board must be increased to nine members. The selection of the additional members can take place at a special school election. … Special school elections are called by the board of education. The county clerk or county board of elections is responsible for conducting the elections.”

However, according to state law, “By default, the district’s annual school election will take place in April — unless either the school board or the municipal governing body adopts a resolution, or the voters approve a referendum, to set the district’s annual school election in November.”

This means that, unless the NJDOE grants the injunction Edelstein has requested on behalf of the current, appointed BOE, a special election will take place. So the Feb. 3 ballot drawing Lanier conducted the same day the injunction was filed may still be relevant. However, the uncertainty surrounding the whole situation has some of the candidates on the ballot worried.

Henry said, “I got there late, but I was there. I wanted to stay in accordance with procedure and I wanted to find out where I was placed on the ballot, just like any other candidate that’s running for office,” on Tuesday, Feb. 7. “I find the entire process bittersweet. I’m happy to be No. 1, but I’m frustrated, because of the political imbroglio regarding our right to vote being jeopardized by the same BOE that will claim to represent the best interests of the children and their parents.”

Watts said she’s running for the 8-month BOE term because she is “a concerned parent” and “parents have a lot more interest in education than some of the people on the current board that don’t have children going to the schools.”

“This is the first time I’ve ever run for public office, because I feel I am not a politician,” Singleton said Saturday, Feb. 4. “I heard that the election was canceled one minute, then yesterday we had the drawing. We were told there by the city Clerk’s Office that the election is still going to happen so, as far as we know, until we’re told otherwise, run, run, run. This is two open positions that’s open right now. We really want people on the board that care about the students. We really want people on the board that have a vested interest in our children for education.”