A recent high school graduate in Egg Harbor Township and several former board members are among the dozens of Atlantic County residents who filed petitions to run for their respective boards of education Nov. 3.
Of the 75 total races in The Press of Atlantic City’s coverage area, which includes Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean counties, 24 are contested and 40 are uncontested. In 11 races, there are not enough candidates to fill all the available seats.*
The deadline to submit nominating petitions for school board seats in order to appear on the November ballot was 4 p.m. Monday.
In Egg Harbor Township, 2020 high school graduate Nicholas A. Seppy will challenge incumbents Amy Summer, Michael Price and Tamika Gilbert-Floyd, as well as Patrick Ireland, Stephan Napoli and Michael A. Merlino, for one of three open seats in just one of the many contested races this year.
Ireland and Napoli both sought a seat in last year’s Board of Education election. Seppy served as the student representative on the school board during the 2019-20 school year.
In Atlantic City, where there are also three open seats, incumbents John A. Devlin, Patricia A. Bailey and Allen Thomas seek reelection. Challengers Jarrod Barnes, Walter Johnson, Mohammed G. Uddin, Ambrose Gray and Farouque Talukder are also on the ballot. Devlin, the current board president, is running on the same ticket as Gray and Talukder under the slogan “Children Taxpayers First.” Johnson, a former board member, lost his reelection bid last year. Barnes also sought a seat in the previous election.
In Pleasantville, which often sees many candidates for the school board, only one of the two incumbents seeks reelection. Incumbent Anny Melo is running on a ticket with former board member Elysa Sanchez, as well as Julio Sanchez, under the slogan “Children 1st.”
Elysa Sanchez was removed from the board toward the end of her first term in 2018 for failing to complete her school ethics disclosure form. She chose not to seek reelection, stating at the time that she felt she could do more for the district on “the other side of the table.”
Also running in Pleasantville is Doris Rowell, a former board candidate who is still in the midst of a lawsuit challenging the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office over last year’s election results in which she won at the polls but was defeated after mail-in ballots were counted. Rowell’s slogan is “New Version.” The three other candidates are Sherrise A. Moten, Loreal N. Chrisp and Sheila H. Todd.
Current board President Carla Thomas and board member Bernice Couch are not seeking reelection. Thomas is instead running for a seat on Pleasantville City Council as a Democrat, where she is being challenged by fellow board member Sharnell Morgan, who is running as an independent. Morgan would have to vacate her seat on the school board if she were to win the seat on City Council.
While there are contested races for some boards, there are 11 uncontested races and six without enough candidates to fill the open seats in Atlantic County.
Weymouth Township’s incumbents Daniel Ardito and board President Edward M. Zebedies Jr. both seek reelection, but Teresa Seelman did not file a petition.
Somers Point has two candidates for its three open seats on the local school board, and one candidate for its open seat on the Mainland Regional Board of Education.
Northfield has only one candidate for its three local seats.
Southern Ocean County has 14 total races, seven of which are contested and one that does not have enough candidates. Cumberland County has 18 races, three of which are contested and three of which do not have enough candidates. Cape May County has 19 races, six of which are contested and three of which do not have enough candidates.
*This story has been updated to reflect updated information from the Atlantic County Board of Elections.