IRVINGTON, NJ — In the Irvington Board of Education election on Tuesday, April 16, three incumbents — board Vice President Richard Williams, Louis Antilus and Joe Sylvian — will run uncontested.
Williams became acting board president after former Irvington Board of Education President Romaine Graham was appointed to succeed Essex County Freeholder Lebby Jones’ following her death from cancer in January.
Since then, Williams said he has been hard at work trying to fill the vacancy on the board, even though someone was chosen to fill Graham’s vacant seat at the regular meeting on Wednesday, March 20.
“We had one candidate who applied, so we picked that name. Her name is S. Benbow,” said Williams on Tuesday, April 2. “She was sworn in. The election will take place at the end of this month. Then, after that, we’ll have the reorganization meeting and then we’ll move on from there.”
Although they are running uncontested, Williams said he, Antilus and Sylvain aren’t taking anything for granted.
“Everything seems to be going well,” said Williams. “We’re running unopposed, but I’ll still do my best to make sure things go well. What happens with the president and (vice president is), when they have the reorganization meeting after the election, the entire board will get to vote on who we want to lead us, going forward.”
Meanwhile, Williams said he doesn’t mind serving as the board’s acting president, regardless of whether his peers choose him to serve in a leadership role again.
“Leadership can be defined as influence,” said Williams. “It doesn’t make any difference what title you have or what position you have. It doesn’t matter, because people turn to whoever they have confidence in. What matters is what you do, what you get done. We’ve gotten things done and I’m just happy as can be about that and we didn’t burden the taxpayers to do it.”
Williams said he’s particularly happy regarding the audit by the state Department of Education auditors of the Irvington Public School District.
“We got word last meeting that we got zero audit findings,” Williams said. “We have probably the best audit findings of any district in New Jersey. So we’re doing OK.”
Despite running for re-election uncontested, Williams said this year’s election has been challenging because it’s taking place in the shadow of the recent deaths of Freeholder and fellow Newark educator Lebby Jones and South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones, who died Thursday, March 21.
“She will be missed. Whenever you spoke with Sandy Jones, there were no jokes, just facts. She will be missed big time,” said Williams. “The same thing with Lebby Jones. We lost two people that were plain-spoken and straightforward and that is a very big loss.”
According to Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, no one else has filed nominating petitions to run in the upcoming Board of Education election.
“The filing deadline for Irvington School Board candidate petitions was March 11,” said Durkin on Tuesday, March 19. “My understanding is that there are three school board positions up for election and three candidates filed petitions. The Irvington Board of Education will soon be approving the budget question that will appear on the ballot for voter approval, so that we can begin sending Vote-By-Mail Ballots to voters.”