One incumbent set to keep seat, another ousted in Pleasantville school board race | #Education

PLEASANTVILLE — The local school board race seems to have turned again on mail-in ballots, with one incumbent keeping her seat and a longtime public official in the city losing his.

Board member Alejandrina Alberto and newcomers Sara Eason and Andrea Gray seem to have won seats on the Pleasantville Board of Education, according to unofficial results posted on the website of the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office. They came out ahead of board member Augustus Harmon and his running mate Allen Maddox, as well as former board member Yadira Falcon.

The winners have seats on a board that has been beset by longstanding feuds, personal rivalries and personnel uncertainty. The decision to suspend Superintendent Natakie Chestnut-Lee in October 2021 over an allegation that she had not been honest on her application about her job history had divided the board, as has a litany of other issues, major and minor.

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Alberto is in first place with 1,084 votes, Gray is in second with 968 and Eason is in third with 918. The candidates with the top three vote totals win a place on the board.

Alberto and Gray benefited from a surge of mail-in ballots, adding 456 and 455 votes, respectively, to their totals. The two were in fourth and fifth place in terms of Election Day votes, with their strong mail-in performance affording them the needed boost. Falcon did similarly well in the mail-in vote, winning 438 votes there after having finished last in terms of the Election Day vote. She finished with a total of 910 votes, just nine short of winning the third seat.

Harmon is in fifth place in the total vote count with 850 and Maddox in last at 823.


PLEASANTVILLE — The Board of Education tabled a memorandum of agreement with the local teach…

Harmon, 86 and an Army veteran, was first elected to City Council in 1970 as Pleasantville’s first Black councilman and also worked as an aid to late U.S. Rep. William Hughes. He has served on various public bodies since and was elected to school board again in 2021 to fill an unexpired term. He is still vice president of the Board of Education for the Atlantic County Special Services and Vocational school districts, which govern, among other schools, the Atlantic County Institute of Technology.

Maddox was employed for 30 years with the state Casino Control Commission, has worked in child-behavioral services with the John Brooks Recovery Center and is involved with the Mainland-Pleasantville NAACP. He said his priority would have been to increase test scores, which district officials have recently described as distressingly low. He said he wanted to study best practices from other districts and adopt them in Pleasantville.

Eason declined to comment on the race, saying she wanted to wait until the results were certified. Alberto, Falcon and Gray have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Over his last year, Harmon has occasionally urged the board to focus on improving the district during board meetings that have often been derailed as arguments escalated into bouts of shouting. He had chaired a committee responsible for negotiating with the Pleasantville Education Association, the local teachers union. He publicly apologized after a memorandum of agreement with the union was unexpectedly tabled during Tuesday’s most recent meeting, in which members traded accusations of acting with ulterior motives.

Maddox too had been critical of the dysfunction on the board and its preoccupation with arguments he thought were often unrelated to substantive school matters.

The workings of the board have been shrouded in political intrigue. Board President Jerome Page said at a meeting in October that he voted in support of current board Solicitor James Carroll in exchange for support from several board members to become president. Page said those board members were being influenced by the Callaway family, which is active in political organizing in Atlantic City and Pleasantville.

Contact Chris Doyle

cdoyle@pressofac.com



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