SOMEA Teachers Union Announces Support for Frank McGehee for NJ Assembly 28th District

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Three Democratic candidates are vying for two seats to represent New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District in the New Jersey Assembly: Cleopatra Tucker, incumbent; Garnet Hall; and Frank McGehee. Two candidates — Joy Freeman and Willie S. Jetti — are running in the Republican primary. The primary takes place on June 6, 2023. Village Green is accepting letters of support for candidates up until May 30, 2023 at 5 p.m. (email The following is from the South Orange Maplewood Education Association (SOMEA):

Rocio Lopez, President, SOMEA; Frank McGehee; Amanda Mazzarella, Action Chair, SOMEA

Dear Editor:

South Orange Maplewood Education Association (SOMEA) is proud to announce our support of Frank McGehee in his candidacy for Assembly to represent New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District to serve South Orange, Maplewood, Irvington, the South and West Wards of Newark and Hillside. 

A long-standing leader and resident in our community, Frank McGehee is highly accessible, visible and engaged. Frank cares. On a personal level, he and his family have been actively involved in our schools for the past decade. He and his wife Marie are active parent volunteers who have championed Black and Brown students and students from underrepresented populations in our local community. Their daughter, Madison, is a senior at Columbia High School and previously attended Maplewood Middle School and Tuscan Elementary School. 

SOMEA had the opportunity to work with Frank directly when he served as Mayor of Maplewood Township at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He worked tirelessly as a liaison for both SOMEA and the South Orange-Maplewood School district- to ensure that all students, teachers, administrators and staff returned to in person learning safely in 2021. It was a highly stressful and uncertain time in our school district and broader community and Frank demonstrated courageous leadership, poise, and empathy.

Recently, we had the opportunity to meet with Frank at his request during our monthly meeting. Both he and Marie attended the meeting. Frank spoke about his family, a long line of public-school educators. He also discussed his successful track record as a change agent on the Maplewood Township Committee which included leading with transparency and communicating frequently to help keep the community safe at onset of the unprecedented pandemic, changing the culture of policing in Maplewood from the top-down and bottom-up and merging the Maplewood and South Orange Fire Departments to form the South Essex Fire Department, which is the first of its kind in the state. 

As many schools continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic, Frank shared his ideas – emphasizing the need for mental health and additional resources in the classroom to better support the needs of all students, teachers and staff. He also underscored the need to better compensate teachers amid increasing teacher shortages and rising healthcare costs as well as the need to better support teachers outside of the classroom. 

Frank also took the time to listen to our members’ concerns which include ongoing challenges with outsourcing, the state’s tiered pension benefit structure, the need for additional support for teachers in “non-core” classes and the need for more social workers in our elementary schools.  

Frank is the only candidate seeking election for Assembly to represent New Jersey’s 28th District who has reached out to SOMEA to meet with our members.

We are excited to support Frank McGehee for Assembly, look forward to our continued dialogue and collaboration, his community-first approach and all that he will accomplish to represent the needs of students and educators in Trenton.

Rocio Lopez, President, SOMEA

Amanda Mazzarella, Action Chair, SOMEA


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