Last Stafford Board of Education Seat Finally Has an Occupant

Nov 21, 2018

The race is over. After two weeks of waiting, Stafford residents finally know who captured the third open seat on the Stafford Township Board of Education.

Election Day results revealed Tammy M. Wagner and Kevin C. Lyons Jr. had won two of the three spots for the school board, but the question of which write-in candidate would occupy the last position come January remained. Brett Novick and Christopher McManus, who had been endorsed by the Stafford Township Education Association in October, were among the likely frontrunners, but it took Ocean County officials some time to process all the write-ins.

On Monday, the office of the Ocean County clerk certified those results, according to Clerk Scott M. Colabella, revealing Novick as the next-highest vote-getter with 326 votes. McManus received 315 votes and 136 individuals received the remaining 476 write-in votes cast, Colabella said.

Novick said the wait was a bit unnerving, giving him time to wonder if his campaign message had effectively reached enough people.

“It was a nail-biting time, said Novick, who will take one of the three positions being left behind by board President Mike Hemenway, Tammy Nicolini and Beth Sicoli. “I believe Chris and I both would have had something wonderful to bring to the board. I was respectful of the fact he was running for one of those board spots, and I appreciated him for it. But we were waiting for the results; it was tough. You wonder and second-guess whether your message had gotten across to the voters.”

Apparently, Novick’s message was received well enough to snag 2.65 percent of the 12,311 votes tallied on Election Day and during the days that followed. McManus snatched 2.56 percent of the votes. Wagner and Lyons Jr. – the only two candidates listed on the official ballot – garnered 5,618 and 5,576 votes, respectively.

Nonetheless, Novick said he’s excited about the opportunity to serve the community, and thanked those who voted for him.

“I’ve been an educator for 18 years and I come from a family of mostly educators,” he said. “One reason I moved to Stafford several years ago was because of the school system, and I hope to bring something very simple to the board – the reminder of why we’re there, and that’s to help our district educate well-rounded citizens for the future.”

During the Nov. 14 school board meeting, perhaps the best news to surface was the approval of new Business Administrator Lourdes LaGuardia to begin her time within the district on Dec. 1. She initially was slated to start on Dec. 11, after she had been hired by the board to replace former business administrator Dan Smith, who left the district at the end of September.

— David Biggy

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