By Walter Elliott
ORANGE - A majority of participating registered city voters made their choices - namely Tyrone Jon Tarver and Siaka Sherif - for Orange's first elected board of education members known here March 13.
Both Tarver and Sherif, according to unofficial results furnished by City Clerk Joyce Lanier here in City Hall 9:20 p.m. Tuesday, were elected to their respective two-year, eight month positions with pluralities of 50 to 40 percent.
The figures are unofficial until Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin certifies the results, or fields any challenges or recounts, on or before March 27. That fortnight may also be used by observers on analyzing how the independent duo was chosen over fellow challengers Stephen Folsom, Antoinette Hall and Al-Nesha Jones-Holiday.
Sherif and Tarver, once certified, will be likely sworn onto the now-expanded seven member Orange Board of Education at their April 10 monthly meeting.
Their wait for inauguration did not keep them from attending OBOE's 7 p.m. March 14 meeting, advanced a night to accommodate the special election, at the Orange Preparatory Academy Auditorium.
"Are you going to be there Wednesday night?" asked Tarver to Sherif before both left City Hall Tuesday night. "It's not like we'll be able to do anything."
The election culminated a four-year effort by some residents and city officials to start converting the seven-member, mayor-appointed OBOE into a nine-member elected panel. That effort included a 2016-17 voter public question referendum and initial election which was negated in State Superior Court-Newark over ballot question language April 13.
About 86 percent of participating registered city voters approved a more detailed Type I-to-Type II school board conversion question here Nov. 7. That, and the current OBOE waiving off a January special election date, set the stage for Tuesday's election.
Both Lanier and Durkin's respective staff counted 545 votes, or an estimated 2.7 percent, from among Orange's 17,273 pool of registered voters. The figure includes 80 counted absentee ballots and four solitary write-in votes but no known provisional ballots.
It is not known whether "Winter Storm Skylar," which provided only a windy rain/snow flurry mix in the "Local Talk" area, accounted for Tuesday's turnout. A looming snowstorm postponed last year's special election from March 14 to March 28.
Voter turnout among the four wards, however, reflected a bell curve. There were 78 North Ward voters, 122 in the South, 346 in the East and 128 in the West.
Voters in three of the four wards carried Tarver in two-to-one ratios over Hall and Folsom.
Hall - who campaigned door-to-door despite a liver ailment that kept her out of the three Feb. 28 and March 10 candidates forums - won the North Ward. She drew 34 votes to Tarver's 28 and Folsom's 8.
Tarver prevailed in the South Ward with 61 to Hall's 30 and Folsom's 22. East Ward voters chose Tarver with 121 to Hall's 62 and Folsom's 5. Tarver garnered 38 West Ward votes to Hall's 16 and Folsom's 4.
Tarver edged Hall in absentee ballots, 20-19. Folsom received 1. There was a solitary write-in vote for David Wright - who ran for the two-year term last year.
The unofficial overall tally for the two-year OBOE seat is: Tarver, 268; Hall, 161; Folsom, 40; Wright, 1.
Tarver, for the record, was the only candidate who had run in March 28, 2017's aborted elections. A majority of voters also picked him for the two-year term.
Sherif and Jones-Holiday had a tighter contest for the eight-month term.
Jones-Holiday prevailed in the North and South wards. She amassed 29 votes to Sherif's 26 and 65 to his 34.
Jones-Holiday also received 26 absentee votes to Sherif's 14.
Voters in the East and West wards, however, carried Sherif over Jones-Holiday.
East Warders gave 120 votes to Sherif to Jones-Holiday's 38. West Warders granted 50 votes to Sherif to Holiday-Jones' 20.
Sherif, in the end, tallied 244 overall votes to Jones-Holiday's 178.
There were solitary write-in votes for "Rachel Archelus," Derrick Henry, "Volcy Sharline" and "Wright Wright."
Rachel G. Archelus and Thomas Wright contended for the longer term. Henry ran and won the eight-month term last year.
"Look at that," said Henry while looking over Tarver's copy of Lanier-furnished results. "I got a vote."
Sherif and "Sam," his campaign manager, talked with Tarver about their door-to-door effort while waiting for Lanier and her staff's tallies.
"We put out a lot of (campaign palm) cards," said Sherif. "We walked in Seven Oaks and along Scotland Road, meeting people."
Sherif, after reading his results copy, thanked "Local Talk," "for putting my name in the newspaper." "Local Talk" endorsed Tarver March 8.
Some of the March 13 election post-mortem may include ballot position and candidates debate participation.
Sherif got ballot position 1A in last month's drawing, followed by Jones-Holiday (2A), Tarver (3A), Hall (4A) and Folsom (5A)
Hall took part in March 23's candidates night before taking ill. Jones-Holiday, in contrast, appeared in the other three forums.
Sherif, Tarver and Folsom participated in all four forums.
A pair of separate YouTube interviews of Sherif and Jones-Holiday were posted on the "Orange Jersey" Facebook page March 11. They were respectively interviewed by Mayor Dwayne Warren or Public Information Officer Keith Royster for 10 to 17 minutes in Warren's City Hall office.
"Orange Jersey" is Warren's page of city administration announcements. A page spokesman told "Local Talk" that, "Due to scheduling conflicts, the other three candidates weren't available."
By Dhiren Shah
ORANGE - Should we support the wishes of the people or support the wishes of a few representatives appointed by the mayor? We call the US as a democratic country. However, I don't think America is a true democracy. There are only two parties in America, and they have an understanding of who will vote for them and where. So locally, there tends to be only one party.
The urban area is primarily for Democrats, and the suburbs are mostly Republicans. After a long protest, Orange’s school board has an upcoming election to determine who sits on the board. This board of trustees should be representatives to provide check and balance for the administration of the schools. Millions of dollars come into the schools, but who is handling it in the best interest of the students? The quality of education is key, but do you think it is improving?
Tyrone Tarver, an outspoken activist, won the election in the last year, but the judge voided the election due to the language of the council resolution. Tyrone's two children study in the same school system. So, it is understood that he wants his son and daughter to get the best education possible.
The politics are hurting the school system. With that, he is determined to improve the school system. I have asked many questions and worked with him since last year. In my personal opinion, he is the best candidate for the Orange School Board. We need someone to oppose the administration if something is not right, rather than becoming a yes person. He will act for righteousness.
Therefore, Local Talk would like to endorse Tyrone Tarver for the Orange Board of Education. I appeal to Orange’s residents to go to cast your vote next Tuesday and if you agree with me, then vote for Tyrone Tarver. For the betterment of the school system, we need him. This is my personal opinion
By Walter Elliott
ORANGE - The Orange Public Schools and Board of Education have released a roster of five people here Jan. 24 who are to vie for two board seats in the district's March 13 special election.
Al-Nesha Jones-Holiday and Siaka Sherif, barring any write-in campaigns, are poised to compete for the eight-month OBOE school board term.
Stephen Folsom, Antoinette Hall and Tyrone Jon Tarver are to meanwhile contest the 20-month - or "One-Year, 8-Month" as per ballot language - term.
The fivesome may well be considered pioneers in OPS' first hopefully successful school board election. OBOE's members, but until March 13, have been appointed by the city's mayor.
A majority of Orange's participating voters last Nov. 7 - and Nov. 8, 2016 - approved a public ballot question converting the seven-member appointed board to a nine-member elected panel.
The March 13 election is considered the second step in a three-year conversion process. The process' goal is to have three board seats annually up for election on or by Nov. 3, 2020.
That process is why the eight-month term winner will be up for re-election Nov. 6 and the 20-month winner Nov. 3, 2020.
Of the five who submitted petitions of at least 10 signatures to either the OPS headquarters or City Clerk Joyce Lanier's City Hall office by 4 p.m. Jan. 23, only Tarver has previous OBOE election experience.
March 28 voters put Tarver above 10 others on the ballot and another three write-in candidates for the 20-month term. Derrick Henry was meanwhile picked for the eight-month term over seven others and the ballot and another two write-in candidates.
Subsequent rulings by Superior Court Judge Michal Vena turned the March 28 special election and Nov. 8, 2016 referendum vote in to a massive false start and do-over.
Vena, citing the lack of information on the first ballot question and interpretive stamen, negated both elections' results. The judge later considered the elections as annulled - as if it never happened - a decision that allowed the public question to reappear Nov. 7, 2016.
The five candidates had to indicate on their petitions whether they were running for the shorter or the longer term.
Those Orange residents who want to register for the March 13 election must have a primary address here on or by Feb. 13. Voters must be a US citizen and be 18 years old on or by March 13.
Registration questions may be forwarded to Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin via essexclerk.com.
Voting by mail requests must be postmarked on or before March 6.
They may also be presented in person to Durkin's Election Division Room 248, Essex County Hall of Records, 465 Dr. martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Newark, on or before 3 p.m. March 12.
Keep reading "Local Talk" for candidates’ forums and other Campaign 2018 events.
By Dhiren Shah OP/ED
ORANGE - I received a phone call and information from one of the elected Orange School Board members, Tyrone Tarver, that the school board has failed to introduce a resolution to have an election in January 2018. In the November 7th election, 86% of Orange's residents voiced their astounding support to have a special election in which they can elect school board members.
As I've heard, the board has not passed any resolution in their November meeting. The next meeting slated for December 12 is too late for notifying the election officials and county clerk. All board members are responsible if they do not adhere to the needs of the citizens, which was confirmed by their vote at the polls on Election Day.
It is very hard to contact the board members, as they do not have any emails or phone numbers on the Web. When I contacted the board of education, they transferred me to Superintendent Ronald Lee’s office, so I emailed Mr. Lee asking the same questions. However, as of deadline I have not received any response from Mr. Lee or any of the board members, or any confirmation that Mr. Lee forwarded my questions to the board members. I even contacted Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin and left a message.
The board members are appointed by the mayor of Orange, Dwayne Warren. They are; E. Lydell Carter - President, Kyleesha Hill, Jarteau Isreal, Cristina Mateo, Courtne Thomas, Jeffrey Wingfield.
Right before the November election, Warren appointed Rhoda Irodia. All the board members must know that THEY are fully responsible for their actions or lack thereof. They are independent from the mayor. The Mayor appointed them as school board members, but they are responsible to the needs of the citizens of Orange only, and not any agenda from the municipal administration
By Walter Elliott
ORANGE - The same people who brought the Nov. 7 public question on the Orange Board of Education's format to the city's General Election ballot are now working on a new question regarding the next, Nov. 6, 2018, General Election.
Tyrone J. Tarver, a founding member of the Committee for an Elected Orange School Board, announced the formation of the Committee for a Transparent Orange School Board here Nov. 13.
CTOSB, said Tarver, has been gathering petition signatures since Nov. 7's election. Their first public event was a "20-second petition drive-through" at the Seventh Day Adventist Church parking lot 1-4 p.m. Nov. 12.
"The goal of the (CTOSB's) petition is to submit to the voters of Orange a Public Question," said Tarver in Tuesday's release, "asking if regular School Board Elections be rescheduled from April to November."
At least three parties interested in holding regular OBOE member elections have a scheduling choice ahead of them:
A.) Orange may join Newark and Irvington public schools in holding regular elections on the third Tuesday in April.
B.) Orange may join West Orange, South Orange-Maplewood, Nutley, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield and Belleville in holding their school board elections along with the first Tuesday in November (or first Tuesday after Nov. 1) General Election.
The choice has more than a seven-month difference involved. April school board elections will allow participating registered Orange voters to decide on Orange Public Schools' annual budget as well as two board members.
November school board elections, with a key exception, will only allow Orange voters to select two board members and not OPS' budget. The exception is whenever a school district is proposing an expense or a project which would result in an over two percent increase on school property taxes.
That two percent threshold was part of Gov. Chris Christie's two-percent tax levy cap he had mandated on municipalities and public school districts as a cost-cutting effort. It is not clear as of deadline whether Governor-Elect Phil Murphy will keep, change or eliminate that two percent cap.
The six "Local Talk" public school districts were allowed to move their board elections from April to November thanks to a 2011 change in state election law. That amendment allows the move in exchange for losing the ability to vote on their annual district budgets.
The six towns made the move in the hope of attracting General Election voters to pick school board members. Advocates of the April-November shift cited cost savings for school districts in renting county voting machines and hiring poll workers.
Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Nutley, South Orange-Maplewood and West Orange made the transition 2012-15. Each district had to extend terms of its board members from July 1-Jan. 1 and convert its budget cycles from a fiscal or school year to a calendar year.
Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin, on March 4, 2015, said he has seen mixed results with the April-November school board election shift.
"It's saved money for taxpayers but it hasn't in any way increased turnout for school board candidates appearing on the November General Election ballot for which it was intended to do," said Durkin. "We're seeing a significant drop off in vote totals from statewide (and) county offices to school board candidates and ballot questions."
Durkin's Election Division also deploys machines and workers and tabulates votes for November school board elections in Verona, Roseland, North Caldwell, Millburn, Livingston, Fairfield, Essex Fells, Cedar Grove, Caldwell-West Caldwell and West Essex Regional.
Orange, should its citizens and/or representatives decide on an April school board and budget election day, will join Irvington, Newark and 18 other school districts statewide.
It is not clear whether Newark Public Schools will keep its elections in April or make a November shift. That and the question on whether to allow Newark voters to have a direct say in the NPS budget faces New Jersey's largest school district while it transitions from 22 years of state control to full local autonomy.
The above pertains to regular school board elections. OBOE may be scheduling a special election to add two members to its seven-member board as early as March.
CTOSB favors holding future regular OBOE elections in April.
"If regular school board elections are moved to November, we will lose the privilege to vote on our children's school budget (and) on the school tax levy for taxpayers," said the committee's Nov. 14 release. "Even though citizens voted to now elect school board members, if the elections are moved to November, decisions on general budgetary issues will be decided by school board members and the (Essex) County Superintendent (of Schools) without citizen oversight."
The mayor-appointed OBOE, on the guise of economy, limited the March 28, 2017 special school board election hours to 1-6 p.m.
A majority of Orange voters elected Tarver and Derrick Henry from a field of 18 candidates to respective 20- and eight-month terms as OBOE's first step towards a fully elected board. New Jersey State Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Vena, deeming the Nov. 8, 2016 original school board ballot question language as insufficient April 13, negated it and March 28's election results.
Vena's overturning both elections plus the Orange City Council's July decision not to make a second ballot question attempt moved Tarver, Henry and several other citizens to create the Committee for an Elected Orange School Board and its successful question placement drive.
Whatever OBOE and Mayor Dwayne Warren have in mind for any kind of election holding was not known during its scheduled Nov. 14 monthly board meeting.
Not one word on the topic was mentioned from either side of the Orange Preparatory Academy Auditorium microphone during Tuesday night's 2.5-hour meeting.
Henry came closest to the subject when he "thanked the school board" for challenging CEOSB in Superior and Appellate Court last summer.
"Seventy-seven of the voters who turned out last year supported going to an elected board," said Henry. "That got thrown out. Last Tuesday, Nov. 7, 86 percent voted in favor or an elected board."
Henry also displayed an unsigned "Vote No" handbill that was circulating about Orange's polling stations Nov. 7, in violation of state election laws.
By Dhiren Shah
ORANGE - The Orange School Board election on March 28, 2017 was nullified by a Judge weeks later. The judge stated that the wordings/language in the referendum questions by the council were not right and the election was voided.
The election was approved by the voters, but the minute points in the law override the people’s choice. So, The Citizen’s Committee for an Elected Orange School Board’s petition to make the board of education accountable to the city’s voters took a step forward on Monday, August 28th, when the City Clerk of the City of Orange Township, Joyce Lanier, certified the petition to be “valid and sufficient.”
On the previous Friday, the City’s Law Department had first stopped the process, but then, “upon further legal consideration,” authorized the City Clerk to proceed. The petition now goes to County Clerk Christopher Durkin for inclusion on the November 7th general election ballot.
On August 22nd, the Committee for an Elected Orange Board of Education had submitted 21 identical petitions signed by more than 400 residents. In order to reach the broadest possible range of citizens, each petition contained full text in three languages read and spoken by many voters: English, Spanish, and Creole. The City Clerk certified 355 of the signatures as valid, well above the 275 needed to qualify for the regular November ballot.
The Ballot Question per the petition is as follows in English. Also, the same question has been translated in Spanish and Creole which is the majority of the languages spoken by the residents in Orange.
PUBLIC QUESTION “Shall the City of Orange Township School District be reclassified from a Type I School District, with members of the Board of Education appointed by the Mayor, to a Type II School District, with Board of Education members elected by the registered voters, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:9-4.”
INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT “If approved, the change from a Type I School District to a Type II School District would mean that voters would elect members of the Orange Board of Education. If approved, the size of the Board of Education would increase from seven to nine members, with the Special Election for the two additional members to take place in January of 2018. If approved, it will also eliminate the existing Board of School Estimate and require that decisions regarding Annual School Budgets and the issuance of Bonds to fund capital improvements, based upon the credit of the School District, not the City, to be submitted to the voters of the City of Orange Township for approval. If approved, there will also be other minor technical changes required that are not set forth herein.”
The chair of the committee, the Rev. Dr. Anthony Johnson, stated, “I speak for the entire committee, when I say that we are pleased that this question will now almost certainly be on the November 7th ballot. It imposes no financial burden on the city or county to have this vote on the date of the general election. Any additional expense to the taxpayers would come about only if the Board of Education again challenged the will of the voters. When Judge Thomas R. Vena overturned the previous referendum, he said in his written opinion that it would not be an undue burden on the voters of Orange to vote again on this issue in 2017.”
Now it is up to the Orange voters to decide politics or people’s choice in November. It will be very interesting not only for Orange but the Local Talk area (Orange, East Orange, West Orange, South Orange, Newark, Irvington, Maplewood, Montclair, Bloomfield and Glen Ridge).
If the ballot question will be in November 2017 ballot, the citizens will decide where they want their school system to grow, under the mayor’s appointed school board or voters elected school board. The school system has lot more money to administer than the budget of the city. So, it is about money and power and people must voice their opinion in November 2017 ballot. As it is with general election there won’t be any cost to tax payer, as the expense has already been made.