Well, it is final – Gerald McCann finished in third place in the April 17 Jersey City Board of Education election.
The former Jersey City mayor (and one time convicted felon)will now takehis seat on the nine-member board.
McCann prevailed over first time candidate Jenny Garcia 1,476 votes to 1,455.
McCann’s victory was based on the results from the April 17 school board election that were certified this past Tuesday by the Hudson County Clerk.
For McCann, who served time in prison in the 1990s for business dealings unrelated to the office of mayor, it is his first win in an election since 1989 when he won the Jersey City mayoral election.
On the board, he will join first place finisher Angel Valentin with 1,613 votes and second place finisher Terry Dehere with 1,590 votes.Sworn in on Monday
The new board will be sworn in on Monday at the Board of Education’s reorganization meeting at 6 p.m. at Public School 11, 886 Bergen Ave. The new board members will serve three-year term.
They will join the nine-member board that takes on an advisory role to state-appointed Schools Superintendent Charles Epps.
The other board members are Edward Cheatam, Anthony Cucci, Peter Donnelly, Suzanne Mack, William DeRosa, and Franklin L. Williams. DeRosa and Williams serve respectively as chairperson and vice chairperson of the board.
As for the other seven candidates in the election, their results are as follows: Michael Esposito – 942, Benjamin Lopez – 855, Moses M. Ballon, Jr. – 547, Jenny E. Campbell – 534, Arnold Williams – 529, Aida Sanchez – 388, and William P. Frasca – 284, and Personal Choice (selections entered in by the public) – 29. ‘I’m a very simple guy’
McCann said recently that he was looking forward to serving on the board. But he expressed his sentiments in his characteristic way – equal parts honesty and abrasiveness.
“I’m a very simple guy – you punch me, I punch you,” McCann said. “Respect for me is mutual.”
McCann said despite his popularity and his past, he doesn’t foresee any problems with his fellow members.
“I don’t have a problem with the board but I will have one if the children in the district are not the utmost concern of the school system,” McCann said.
McCann as a certified public accountant will be looking at spending in the Jersey City school system. He pointed out that based on his research that over $20,000 is spent per student in the Jersey City school system but school officials have an official number of $14,000 per student.
The board oversees one of the largest and most heavily funded school systems in New Jersey. The total budget for the Jersey City school system is $599 million for the present year of 2006-2007, with $425 million coming from the state and the remainder from local taxes. The school board approved the budget for the 2007-2008 school year for $632 million at a special board meeting on March 29.
“Ninety percent of the problem in the school system is the education of the children,” McCann said. “[The school system] has more money but where is their money going because the education isn’t very good.”
He said the school system should look at cutting costs and replacing “teachers not dedicated to education”.
McCann also plans to do battle with the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation (SCC), which the Jersey City school board sued in February to force them to make repairs.
“Whatever has been done before will be different this time,” McCann said. He said that during his mayoralty, two schools were built: public schools 17 and 28. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com