Current & Former Special Education Committee Chairs Endorse Malia Herman for Maplewood TC

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Three candidates are running for two Maplewood Township Committee seats in 2024: incumbents Nancy Adams and Jamaine Cripe, and Malia Herman. The primary election is on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. The general election takes place on Tuesday, November 5, 2024. The deadline for submitting a Letter to the Editor for the Primary election is Tuesday, May 28, at 5 p.m. Read our Election Guidelines here. Read all of our Election Coverage here.


The following statements are written by a current and three former presidents of SEPAC SOMA, the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee in the South Orange and Maplewood School District, in support of Malia Herman for Maplewood Township Committee.They express the views of the individuals, and have not been written on behalf of SEPAC SOMA.:

I’m Beth Cosentino, a Maplewood resident of 8.5 years and President of SEPAC SOMA. Malia and I first met when we were giving parent tours at Montrose Early Childhood Center, nearly seven years ago. Her son was about to move on to Kindergarten, which presented some challenges. Those challenges propelled Malia from a parent volunteer to an advocate, first for her own child, then with SEPAC SOMA, the school district’s special education parent advisory committee. In this capacity, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Malia: collaborating on writing advisory letters, attending meetings with parents and administrators, and addressing parent concerns related to special education. I’ve seen firsthand Malia’s sincere dedication to helping parents navigate often difficult and stressful times as they look for answers. In the last few years, as she’s served on the SEPAC executive board, she has effectively collaborated with others to prioritize making inclusive opportunities for individuals with disabilities within the school district and Maplewood. Because of her experience and her commitment to working with others for an all-inclusive community, I am endorsing and voting for Malia Herman for Maplewood Township Committee. 

Beth Cosentino

President, SEPAC SOMA 2022-2024


My name is Reesa Salomon and I’ve lived in Maplewood for 19 years. I first met Malia when I was the president of SEPAC and Malia joined our executive board as the Secretary. For as long as I’ve known Malia, she has been an advocate for individuals with disabilities in our schools and community. Malia has continued to volunteer her time with numerous organizations, such as SEPAC, The Maplewood Pool Committee, and Moms Demand Action. Malia is always keeping the needs of the community at heart in all of her work and I fully support and will be voting for Malia Herman for Maplewood Township Committee. 

Reesa Salomon

Former SEPAC President


Malia Herman and I worked together for a number of years on SOMA’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council. Malia went from simply being a concerned parent attending a meeting to an active, vocal and vital member of SEPAC in a very short span of time. She stepped up into a top leadership role in the organization at one of the most difficult moments imaginable, the beginning of the pandemic. During that period of virtual education, Malia advocated tirelessly to the SOMSD administration to improve the challenging situation and isolating experience nearly all families faced. 

Additionally, as a writer often featured in Matters Magazine, Malia has shined the spotlight on members of our community doing critical work with children having special needs and their parents, who otherwise would go unrecognized. Malia’s pieces help the public become informed, bringing the town closer to the inclusive community it aspires to be.

I live in South Orange and won’t have the opportunity to vote for Malia. However, as an individual, and not on behalf of SEPAC, I am happy to lend support to Malia Herman, knowing and respecting her for her multifaceted efforts to make life in our communities better.

Ann Leeb

Former SEPAC President 


I am Erin Siders, Maplewood resident since 2003. 

I first met Malia some years ago when she walked into a Special Education Parents Advisory Committee (SEPAC) meeting I was leading. Like so many of us with special needs children, she was looking for community and support as her family navigated this new world. From that moment on, I think she realized she found “her people”. I continued to see her at future meetings, and I watched her evolve from someone seeking guidance, to someone providing guidance. Malia would ask “how can I help” and really lean into advocating for the special needs families in our community. The next thing I knew – she was president of SEPAC and leading the advocacy effort.

The next time Malia and I crossed paths was when she joined the Maplewood Pool Advisory Committee. She brought fresh ideas to the committee, championed options that are family-friendly and supportive of working families. She has the qualities of a true leader. Malia is engaging, kind, thoughtful, has integrity and is trustworthy. She is unafraid to say what she doesn’t know and eager to listen and learn. She is a voice we need in our community and on the Township Committee.

Erin Siders

Former SEPAC President 


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