2011 Board of Education Election

Hoboken Board of Education Election Results

Garcia, Biancamano, Rhodes-Kearns win – on machines & VBM

Carmelo Garcia, Peter Biancamano and Frances Rhodes-Kearns won the 2011 Hoboken Board of Education Election. They won both on the machines, and Vote by Mail ballots.


Board of Ed election comes down to the wire

Quite a bit has happened in the last few weeks to make the Hoboken Board of Education race clearer. After starting out with nine candidates facing off for three seats, the race is now essentially down to a three-on-three battle.

Incumbents Carmelo Garcia and Frances Rhodes-Kearns have joined with first-time candidate Peter Biancamano. Their effort will face the establishment ticket organized by ex-unelected councilman Michael Lenz and supported by City Hall. Behind-the-scenes friction between Garcia and some supporters of Rhodes-Kearns and Biancamano was put to rest following the exit of John Madigan, and the weakness of the slate formed to give near-total control Board President Rose Markle and Vice President Theresa Minutillo. To stop that from happening, quite a few people will be biting their lips and voting for some or all of the Garcia-led ticket. By the way, the candidates are not bracketed as slates in the voting booth. You can mix and match your votes for any one, two or three people of your choice.

Charter & Private School voters may decide election

The new Garcia/Bubbles/Biancamano slate is drawing votes not only from the traditional Puerto Rican, Irish and Italian voter bases, but from the “New Hoboken” voters in the Charter, Private and Public Schools who feel used and abused by Markle and Minutillo’s leadership over the past few years.

Administrators chosen by Markle and Minutillo have jerked around Charter Schools, which rented space from the district. Garcia is father to a student in the HoLa Charter School, and is the only Latino trustee in a district that serves a majority Hispanic student population. The irony is one of the candidates on the Lenz/Markle slate is a former Charter School board member who sent his daughter to Hoboken High only when all other options were exhausted.

Steven Feinstein is a Fourth Ward resident who took every opportunity keep his child out of Connors School, which serves Fourth Ward kids, including students from the Hoboken Housing Authority. Feinstein wrote an endorsement letter for Lenz last fall, and was chosen for the school board ticket by Lenz this winter. Garcia is the Executive Director of the HHA and has often advocated for the needs of Housing Authority kids while others on the board seek to direct assets to the uptown Wallace School.

“Harrassment” of Theater Director may also bring out voters

Markle and Minutillo’s alleged reign of terror over Theater Program Director Paula Ohaus may also bring voters out to oppose their slate of candidates. Weeks of campaigning have done little to convince people the candidacy of Clifford Godfrey should be taken seriously as anything more than a deal between his boss – Newark Mayor Cory Booker – and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Godfrey has been seen campaigning with very Newark-looking political operatives, who have also been seen dropping literature and drawing midnight political messages in chalk on city sidewalks supporting his ticket. Nobody ever heard of Godfrey before he filed his petitions, and he’s likely to be the lowest vote-getter on his ticket barring a sudden surge of “Hoboken” voters arriving from the Brick City. Even some of her supporters say first-year incumbent Jean-Marie Mitchell is getting a backache from dragging around the dead weight of her running mates.

So how will it all end?

Will voter turnout be pathetic again this year?

Voter turnout wins elections, and when it comes to the Board of Education, the people who want it more – and need it more – usually win in Hoboken. This year that wouldn’t describe the poorly constructed Markle/Minutillo ticket. If Mitchell, Godfrey and Feinstein lose, Markle and Minutillo will still hold the board majority. If only Mitchell wins, it’s a wash for them. Political watchers on both sides say Godfrey and Feinstein will either win together or lose together. If their entire slate wins it would be a surprise, and good news for the Mayor ahead of the City Council elections in two weeks. That’s not seen as the most likely scenario by any means.

The people who want (and need) to see Garcia, Rhodes-Kearns and Biancamano win are those most highly motivated to get out the vote this year. The question is, will they split that vote? Will they – despite appearances of unity – shoot themselves in the foot with a bullet-vote strategy? Will Carmelo’s supporters enter the booth, punch 1-A and walk out without finding his running mates further down the page? The answers should become clear Wednesday night at around 10pm.

Hoboken411 Exclusive: Madigan Drops Out

In a move that significantly changes the race, John Madigan is withdrawing his candidacy for Hoboken Board of Education.

Madigan’s independent campaign last year brought him to within 67 votes of defeating sitting President Rose Markle. Board watchers believe his strong ballot position (and weak opposition on this year’s Markle/Minutillo ticket) could have led Madigan to victory.

In a letter to Hoboken411, Madigan says he will focus on health issues affecting his family and his prior commitments to Hoboken’s Little League and Athletic Hall of Fame.

2nd exit consolidates opposition to Markle/Minutillo slate

Madigan follows Anthony Oland out of the race. Oland withdrew before ballot positions were selected. It’s unclear if the 2A spot on the ballot will remain empty or if the other candidates will move up a spot in the rotation. It depends on how far along the process of printing sample ballots is. With Madigan and Oland out, people looking for an alternative to the Markle/Minutillo slate will have fewer choices, perhaps consolidating support behind incumbents Carmelo Garcia, Frances Rhodes-Kearns and first-time candidate Peter Biancamano. Garcia is still running as an independent, while Bubbles and Biancamano appear to have shared support from key players including Frank “Pupie” Raia.

Will it end up as slate vs. slate on Election Day?

Some say a marriage of the three opposition candidates would be the classic Hoboken Board-of-Ed political Tri-Fecta: an Italian, an Irishwoman and a Puerto Rican.

However, old battle grudges among their key supporters continue to keep the three from forming an official ticket. Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Union-supporting Jean Marie-Mitchell and her slatemates Hoose Thatt and Nevah Hurdahim remain the only official ticket in the race. (For their real names, take a look at earlier coverage of this year’s Board of Ed election, after the jump!)

3/30/2011 Update:

Hear the candidates speak on April 4th

Note that there’s a “Board of Education Candidates’ Forum” on Monday, April 4th @ 6:45pm – over at Stevens Institute of Technology (Kidde Hall).


UPDATE: Oland drops out, key ballot positions drawn

Campaign veterans say good ballot position is important in crowded Hoboken elections. The positions were drawn today for the April Board of Education election.

Anthony Oland decided not to run after all, so his name wasn’t included in the draw.

#1 spot has been key in Board of Ed elections

The Pole Position has been a winner since at least 2006, when Theresa Minutillo was elected. She was also in the #1 spot for her 2009 re-election. In 2007 it was Carrie Gilliard followed by Phil DeFalco in 2008. Last year, Leon Gold pulled the #1 position. It’s more than a coincidence. It’s the way many people in Hudson County have been trained to vote “right down the line.”

Incumbent Carmelo Garcia drew the marquis spot this year. So far Garcia is still running as an independent, making the top spot even more important to the Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director.

Garcia and Madigan 1 & 2, Mitchell & slate score 3-4-5

The #2 position went to the candidate who very nearly unseated Board of Ed President Rose Markle last year: independent John Madigan.

Even though the Markle/Minutillo-backed ticket missed the top two, they’re still fortunate to find themselves all together in a 3-4-5 configuration.

Watch for this slate to emphasize numbers over names in their marketing since two of the three candidates on the ticket aren’t well known.

Bubbles, Waiters & Biancamano take bottom 3 positions

9-year incumbent Frances “Bubbles” Rhodes-Kearns will hold the 6th spot, followed by perennial candidate Patricia Waiters (who also filed petitions to simultaneously run for the 2nd ward City Council seat.)

Peter Biancamano brings up the rear in the figure 8 position. Waiters is on her own after burning all the bridges that brought her a respectable showing in last year’s Board of Ed race while Bubbles and Biancamano may run together with support from Frank “Pupie” Raia.

Here’s who will be found where:

  • 1A: Carmelo Garcia (I)
    2A: John Madigan
    3A: Clifford Godfrey
    4A: Jean Marie Mitchell (I)
    5A: Steven Feinstein
    6A: Frances Rhodes-Kearns (I)
    7A: Patricia Waiters
    8A: Peter Biancamano
    (I) denotes Incumbent

Hoboken411 note: There’s been a lot of immature grumbling from supporters of the Markle/Minutillo slate about this line in the original 2011 campaign preview:

“Jean-Marie Mitchell is technically on the Markle/Minutillo team, but is just as much at home with Garcia and company.”

Since they insist on pushing the issue, here’s more information. Back in early 2009, Minutillo and her minority on the board opposed a proposed Teachers Union contract with compounding 4.3% salary increases on the grounds it was too rich. Garcia and his majority supported it. At a packed house full of witnesses in the Wallace School gym, Jean Marie Mitchell spoke up in favor of the contract because she felt defeating it would hurt teacher morale. Here’s how it was reported by Tim Carroll:

“Be thankful you’re bringing in a paycheck,” resident Brian Wagner said at the meeting. “I’m sorry, but you have to feel the pain that the rest of us are feeling in the private sector … Many of us who stood here tonight are unemployed or will be shortly.”

Jean Marie Mitchell, Calabro School P.T.O. president, said in response, “I don’t want these teachers to be subject to the pain we are out here.”

– HR, 1/18/2009

Multiple reliable sources also said how Minutillo first approached Mitchell to run on her ticket back in 2007. An organizational meeting was held at Minutillo’s home, which included her mentor Michael Lenz, Rose Markle, and others who supported Minutillo at the time. They were looking to form a ticket with Carrie Gillard and Bill Tobias. Markle announced she was on board, and Mitchell was there to consider rounding it out as the fourth candidate.

Mitchell leaves as convo turns into Carmelo-bashing

As they often did, Lenz, Markle and Minutillo began to trash Carmelo Garcia. Mitchell didn’t like that, and said she was uncomfortable with that kind of talk because she had worked with Carmelo on school projects, and liked and respected him. Jean-Marie then excused herself and left the meeting, leaving Minutillo and Lenz without a fourth candidate. (They later offered the spot to Rachel Goldberg, who declined. Tricia Snyder was their third choice.)

Continue reading the original Hoboken411 preview of the Board of Ed race below.

Nine candidates file petitions for three Hoboken BoE seats

(Originally published on Hoboken411: 3/9/2011)

The annual scrum for power over the Hoboken Schools is on!

Tuesday at 4pm was the deadline to file nominating petitions to run for three seats on the Board of Education. For the second year in a row, there will be a very crowded field with nine candidates filing. Majority power on the board is not at stake. Even if supporters of President Rose Markle and VP Theresa Minutillo lose they’ll still have a 5-vote majority.

So, who’s running? All 3 incumbents, for starters.

Carmelo Garcia

Despite rumors of intense negotiations to get current Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia out of the race, he filed his petitions alone on Tuesday. Insiders say of all the candidates who filed, Garcia is the only one who could possibly muster enough support to win running on his own. All others will need help from a team to be in the running.

Efforts to form a unified ticket against the Markle/Minutillo (and by extension, Mike Lenz-influenced) majority on the board from day one were blocked by Garcia’s refusal to step aside, and other major politico’s refusal to support a “fusion ticket” that included him.

Old grudges have come back to haunt the race, but Garcia may yet have the last laugh. Last time he won with a whopping 2241 votes.

Frances Rhodes-Kearns

“Bubbles” says she’s in it to win it, but history tells us she’ll need strong coalition support to pull it off.

When Fran ran three years ago she got 335 fewer votes than her running mate Carmelo, and about the same as former trustee Phil DeFalco. Those 335 votes are part of the reason why Garcia may not be on a ticket this year – the perception that his voters “cut” the rest of his team to bring him greater glory. In Hoboken’s political arena of egos, that doesn’t play well.

Sources have been saying for weeks that Rhodes-Kearns is a fallback position because of the lack of credible female candidates willing to run against the Markle/Minutillo majority. Some will try to use the fact that Bubbles ran on Peter Cammarano’s ticket for City Council against her, but those same people seem to have no problem with Angel Alicea as Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s Public Safety Director.

Jean-Marie Mitchell

Jean-Marie Mitchell is technically on the Markle/Minutillo team, but is just as much at home with Garcia and company.

After being elected to a 1-year term, Mitchell looks a lot like Tricia Snyder. (Well, minus Snyders’ education credentials.) What does Hoboken411 mean by that? Snyder was elected to a 1-year term against a weak opponent on board a ticket with the better known Markle and Carrie Gilliard. The next year, little-known Snyder was made the anchor of a ticket that included two people even less known than she was. One was a middle-aged white guy with low name recognition and the other was a young African-American man with no kids in the schools.

All three lost huge to Garcia/Rhodes-Kearns/DeFalco.

This year, Mitchell is being made the anchor of a ticket that – you guessed it – includes a middle-aged white guy with low name recognition and a young African-American man who apparently has no kids in the schools. Sound familiar?

John Madigan

Running as an independent without a slate to support him, John Madigan still came within 67 votes of upsetting incumbent President Rose Markle last year.

An active supporter of student sports, Madigan is a former school district employee who ran for the board three times before, but has always come just short of a victory.

Could the 4th time be the charm for Madigan?

If he joins forces with Garcia (or Raia, who wouldn’t support him last year) history says it could spell trouble for the little-known candidates on the Markle/Minutillo/Lenz slate.

Anthony Oland

He’s a father, young professional, and Hudson County native comfortable traveling in Old Hoboken and New Hoboken circles. In any other year he probably would have been a shoe-in, but in 2009 even 2049 votes weren’t enough to get him past a perfect storm coalition ticket (which has since broken apart).

Anthony Oland is an active member of the Hoboken Early Childhood Advisory Council whose previous campaign experience makes him a key challenger to watch.

Peter Biancamano

Born and raised in Hoboken with a name known to everyone who has ever had a tasty sandwich at his family’s popular deli, Peter Biancamano is a surprise entrant in the race. Young and unmarried, Biancamano is currently the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Hoboken Democratic Party.

A former prodigy of Frank Raia, Biancamano supported Beth Mason in May ’09 and Peter Cammarano in the runoff before he made a deal to cast a key vote for Ravi Bhalla for Democratic Party Chair that angered a lot of his friends and allies.

Shortly before the St. Patrick’s parade, Zimmer and her Shadow Mayor husband were seen yelling at Biancamano, apparently after they heard he pulled petitions for Board of Ed against their will.

Patricia Waiters

The woman who raced to Newark to hold the umbrella for Cammarano after his arraignment on corruption charges will be running for School Board again this year. Last time she got 978 votes, about 800 of which came from the fact she was running on a Raia and Perry Belfiore-supported ticket with Kyelia Colon and Ken Howitt.

Patricia Waiters has since managed to burn her bridges to a crisp with her support of the soundly defeated Michael Lenz. Without organized support her total in the 2011 election will probably be closer to the 87 votes she got running for Mayor in 2009. Some are asking, “Did Lenz get her in the race to cause confusion for the opposition, or is Pat just being Pat?”

Steven Feinstein

Steven Feinstein is a friend and supporter of Michael Lenz. For many people that will be all they need to know about him. Feinstein’s only known political activity involves writing a letter dripping with praise for Lenz prior to the November special election. Feinstein was a Charter School parent before enrolling his daughter in Hoboken High School this year, in part attracted to the successful Drama Program that – ironically – the Markle/Minutillo faction have targeted for cuts in what has been described as a vendetta against it’s popular Director.

In this year’s performance, the 2008 role of Brian Assadourian will be played by Steven Feinstein.

Clifford Godfrey

If right now you’re saying “Who?” you’re not alone. Clifford Godfrey will be running on the Markle/Minutillo ticket with Feinstein and Mitchell, but nobody seems to know much about him.

A little checking shows he is a Stevens Institute graduate who works for the Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment program, which means he has political ties to Mayor Cory Booker. Will more Newark political money roll into the Hoboken Board of Ed race via Godfrey, or will he come and go like the similarly unknown Phil Campbell did in 2008?

There will be pressure in the days ahead for some candidates to drop out of the race before ballot positions are drawn. Hoboken411 will keep you updated on key developments as we approach yet another Election Day.

Leave a Reply

46 Comments on "2011 Board of Education Election"

5 years 1 month ago

Oh and by the way…the only person who I saw campaigning for this election was Mitchell. And I am at a Hoboken public school twice a day. I would consider myself an average parent with children in school – and no one reached out to me one way or the other.

5 years 1 month ago

Funny, I never saw Mitchell campaigning. I saw Garcia talking to parents in quite a few places around town.[quote comment=”206371″]Oh and by the way…the only person who I saw campaigning for this election was Mitchell. And I am at a Hoboken public school twice a day. I would consider myself an average parent with children in school – and no one reached out to me one way or the other.[/quote]

5 years 1 month ago
Referring to my earlier comment, OK, not having a child may not be a negative thing. But a charter school is NOT the same thing as a Hoboken public school. The charter school is its own district. I just don’t “get” why some of these people – both those who won AND those who lost – ran for the board. I can’t imagine that all of them actually care about the quality of education in Hoboken. Is it just to protect the jobs of their friends and family? I think that current board member Irene Sobolov is there truly because… Read more »
4th Ward Guardian
4th Ward Guardian
5 years 1 month ago
Fair enough oceanbloo, but the Charter School isn’t it’s own district at all. Charter schools are chartered by the state, overseen by the state and funded in large part by the state through the local public school districts. Charter schools do not have the freedoms of Private schools. Don’t forget for all her yammering about the Board of Ed election your Mayor’s kids go to a Charter school. Irene Sobolov is a chameleon with a past. She was a major supporter of Mayor Anthony Russo because her brother was the Mayor’s spokesman. He’s a nice guy who’s being tortured by… Read more »
5 years 1 month ago
I don’t think Sobolov is a very strong representative on the BOE. She seems to be full of excuses for Kids First’s bad behavior (of which she is a part of) and she seems to care very much about protecting her family members who are employed both at the BOE and at City Hall. I think that is one of her strongest motivations. Same goes for Markle. I want less board members like those two. [quote comment=”206370″]Referring to my earlier comment, OK, not having a child may not be a negative thing. But a charter school is NOT the same… Read more »
5 years 1 month ago

One of the winners has a child in a charter school, not a Hoboken district school.

Another winner doesn’t even have kids.


kooky kat
5 years 1 month ago

So disappointing, kind of like people moving back into Hoboken for the sole purpose of running for city council. Didn’t BOTH Kurta and Greaney do that? I don’t even care if Greaney filed for bancruptcy, it happens, sometimes to people you’d least likely suspect to do it.

It should be interesting to see these folks start turning on each other. Ravi already running for the hills, I wonder who’s next? My money is on Carol Marsh…[quote comment=”206338″]One of the winners has a child in a charter school, not a Hoboken district school.Another winner doesn’t even have kids.Sigh.[/quote]

4th Ward Guardian
4th Ward Guardian
5 years 1 month ago
Congratulations to the voters who turned away from constant drumbeat of hate and negativity from the Mayor and her nutty supporters and elected the team who ran a positive, inclusive campaign! The victory was overwhelming both on the machines at the polls and the overall total. The Mayor and her bobblehead Rami were beaten by a 2-to-1 margin in the 4th Ward! Go Tim! @oceanbloo — Charter Schools are Public Schools. They just aren’t controlled by the Board of Education. They’re funded by the state through the local district. The winner you’re referring to also has a child in the… Read more »
5 years 1 month ago

One of the winners last year on the Kids First slate, Leon Gold, did not have kids in the Hoboken schools, in fact, I believe he doesn’t even have children.

Theresa Minutillo, also of Kids First, won a seat on the BOE in 2006 before she had her child.

Rose Markle doesn’t have kids in the schools – they are adults.

So congratulations to the winners in yesterday’s election.[quote comment=”206338″]One of the winners has a child in a charter school, not a Hoboken district school.Another winner doesn’t even have kids.Sigh.[/quote]

5 years 1 month ago

Still a Personal choice regarding where to school YOUR children.
Does NOT make you Incapable of working for Public School System.
Not having a child in the system IMPO is Comparable to saying:
“NOT Born & Raised here, Can’t Govern here!”
With or Without children All residents/ voters able to support Education.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL, who are helping Hoboken students
with the tools needed for Intelligent, Positive & Peaceful Futures![quote comment=”206338″]One of the winners has a child in a charter school, not a Hoboken district school.Another winner doesn’t even have kids.Sigh.[/quote]

5 years 1 month ago
Bloo, “One of the winners has a child in a charter school, not a Hoboken district school.” Well that’s just the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality that’s so pervasive in this town. Whether it’s people griping about dogs making a mess (and then not cleaning up after their dogs), people whining about double-parking (but then ‘just running in’ while their car clogs up Washington St.), or even parents complaining about the state of schools in town (and then not getting involved in the process of actually changing things), there are myriad examples of ‘do as I… Read more »
5 years 1 month ago

Congrats to all. It just a sign of what’s to come in the May elections. It’s gonna be interesting to see how the bobbleheads on the council handle this mayors’ endorsement defeat. Will they try to distance themselves for political gain and show their hypocrisy, or continue to support and show their stupidity. Either way—-they lose.

5 years 1 month ago

How carmelo got more votes then Peter! Go Peter! Congrats and good luck!