Baker, Mazzocchi and Baker Win 3-Year Terms on South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education

Editor’s note, Nov. 8, 4:40 p.m.: this article was updated with a statement from Robin Johnson Baker.

After a tough and sometimes contentious campaign season, Elizabeth Baker, Anthony J. Mazzocchi and Robin Johnson Baker have won three-year terms on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

Unofficial results from Essex County as well as the Township Clerks in Maplewood and South Orange show a clear lead for the three candidates with a majority of the votes counted.

With all but one Maplewood district reporting, the unofficial Essex County Clerk numbers showed Elizabeth Baker with 20.66%, Mazzocchi with 19.85% and Robin Baker with 17.86% of the vote.

Donna Smith and Shannon Cuttle followed in 4th and 5th place with 12.57% and 11.23% respectively. Felisha George, CHS Class of 2012, Avery Julien, CHS Class of 2017, and SOMSD parent advocate Sheila Shidnia also ran.

Unofficial district by district numbers from the Town Clerks of Maplewood and South Orange showed remarkably consistent results across the towns and individual districts, with Baker, Mazzocchi and Baker leading in many districts — except a few where Donna Smith cracked the top three.

Robin Johnson Baker (c) with Elizabeth Baker (r) and Board of Ed member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad

Elizabeth Baker is the current President of the Board of Education. This will be her second term on the Board of Ed. Read Elizabeth Baker’s candidate statement here. Baker is an associate general counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ in New York City.

Mazzocchi ran competitively but unsuccessfully last year, coming in 4th place in a contest in which the top three are elected to office. Mazzocchi is Director of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Read Mazzocchi’s candidate statement here.

Robin Johnson Baker was previously elected to the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education in 1997, serving from 1998 through 2001. This will be her second term on the Board of Education. Read Robin Johnson Baker’s candidate statement here.

Unofficial results can be found on the Essex County Clerk’s website here.

“This election proves that our community is committed to the hard work of racial equity in our schools and to creating dynamic and supportive learning communities that engage  every child,” said Elizabeth Baker in a statement sent to Village Green.
She continued, “I am honored to serve another term and looking forward to the principled voice and experienced hand that Robin Baker will bring to the Board’s work.  I extend my congratulations to Tony Mazzocchi and welcome him to the Board, and I want to thank Donna Smith for her service and hard work over these last three years. I appreciate the perspectives that all the candidates brought to the debate and want to especially thank Shannon Cuttle for bringing the issue of school climate into laser focus, Many thanks as well to both Avery Julien and Felicia George for their voice on behalf of students.”
Tony Mazzocchi team celebrates.

Mazzocchi sent the following statement to Village Green after the win: “I’m so proud to return to the SOMSD to serve our community and our children. We must be steadfast and work together as a community to find a Superintendent, and build a system that recognizes, cultivates, and celebrates the inherent strength in every single one of our children. Educational equality that includes a rich, robust, and diverse curriculum must be a priority and I can’t wait to get to work for our kids. Thank you to everyone for your support.”

“I have so much to be thankful for and many, many people to thank as this election cycle has drawn to a close,” said Robin Johnson Baker. “I am grateful to the South Orange and Maplewood communities for choosing me as one of their representatives to the Board of Education and will bring the very best I have to offer to the role.  I look forward to joining Elizabeth Baker in her second term on the board, and it has truly been an honor to run alongside such a hardworking, ethical and deeply committed advocate for our children and our schools.”

Baker continued, “Congratulations to Tony Mazzocchi and to everyone who had the courage to ‘throw their hats into the ring’ in an effort to serve this district. The work has begun, but we have a lot still to do.  Our district needs all who are willing to stay involved and I look, with anticipation, to the opportunities that will surely arise to work with you in achieving our mutual goal of excellence at every level for our schools.”

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