First SOMA Board of Ed Debate Tonight

by The Village Green
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The Hilton Neighborhood Association will be hosting the first Board of Education candidates debate tonight, Thursday, September 18, at the DeHart Community Center in Maplewood.

All four candidates are expected to participate.

Elizabeth BakerMaureen Jones, Dr. Godwin Molokwu, and Donna Smith are vying for three seats on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. Baker and Jones are running together on a ticket. BakerJones and Smith have provided statements and answered questions for candidates’ profiles (click on their names to read the profiles). Dr. Molokwu has declined to release a statement or respond to questions thus far.

Previously, Smith was running with Elissa Malespina. In late August,Malespina dropped out of the race, as did Anthony Mazzocchi. Malespina reported that she had received a book deal; Mazzocchi cited personal reasons.

At the September 18 event, candidates will respond to questions they receive prior to the meeting.  A question and answer session will follow.

The email from the Hilton Neighborhood Association announcing the candidates’ night stated, “The quality of the Maplewood/South Orange School System affects all residents, those who have school age children and those who do not. Find out the candidates’ positions on important issues facing education today, and, let them know your concerns.”

The meeting will be held at the DeHart Community Center, 120 Burnett Avenue in Maplewood. Start time is 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.  For more information, contact 973-761-4672 or

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