Editor’s note: this article was updated at 11:20 a.m. with statements from the winning candidates.
With 32 of 33 districts and the mail-in and provisionals ballots counted, the “Students Come First” slate of Nubia Wilson, Regina Eckert and Bill Gifford have won election to the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education, according to the Essex County Clerk’s website.
Terms are for three years. Board members are sworn in in January.
Will Meyer and Ritu Pancholy came in 4th and 5th, respectively, running jointly on the “Doing Better, Together” slate.
All candidates were running for the first time. Incumbents Thair Joshua (the current BOE President), Erin Siders and Johanna Wright declined to seek re-election.
See the Essex County Clerk’s site for updates here.
Wilson, Eckert and Gifford sent the following statement to the media:
I want to thank everyone who volunteered for the Students Come First campaign. Over the past few months friends, family and neighbors came together to forge a powerful coalition. I am honored that the voters of Maplewood and South Orange selected Regina, Nubia and myself to serve on the Board of Education. As someone who ran for the board as a Columbia High School Senior and college freshmen, it’s a watershed moment to win 18 years later. Now, the real work begins. We face some incredible challenges as a district, but we will hit the ground running to take on these issues.
I also want to recognize Will and Ritu for all their efforts throughout this election. They hit the pavement as hard as we did. I look forward to working with them and the whole community, to make our schools the best they can be.
Thank you to my running mates, Bill and Regina, and to everyone who made this SOMSD Board of Education election possible. It is an honor to be elected to serve this amazing community and our students, the stars of our school district. We could not have accomplished this for the entire slate without all of the volunteers and community members who believed in us and our platform to prioritize students, curriculum, learning, and teachers. Running for our board has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I know the journey has just begun. One of the most rewarding aspects of this campaign was listening to the successes, challenges and ideas from our community. Thank you for making your voices heard, and let’s not stop there–we have to stay connected. Regina, Bill and I are dedicated to governing the school district to provide the educational and social-emotional experiences that our children deserve. I am thrilled to join my fellow board members to collaborate and redefine success for our students. Also, I would like to recognize Ritu Pancholy and Will Meyer for their campaign efforts.
Thank you to our wonderful community members for coming together and electing Nubia, Bill and I to represent students, families and our community to the SOMSD Board of Education. And a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to help us along the way. I am humbled and honored to receive your support and I look forward to working with fellow board members and the community to help redefine success for our students. There’s a lot of work to be done but I am so hopeful about the future for our children, our schools and our community.
Any community member that runs for the Board of Education should be commended for putting themselves out there and volunteering for this role. I have grown so much in the past few months; this has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I am proud to have run alongside some very passionate and impressive candidates. Nubia and Bill, I could not have done this without you. What an honor it has been to take this journey with you, and it’s only the beginning. I’d also like to recognize Ritu Pancholy and Will Meyer for their efforts throughout this campaign.
Pancholy and Meyer sent the following statement to the media:
The election results are in and we want to congratulate Nubia, Regina and Bill on their victory. We ran a campaign that was optimistic, values-driven, intellectually honest, and while the results are not what we hoped, we want to thank our tireless supporters and volunteer campaign team. You gave your time, your labor and your support for our common cause of doing better, together, and we are grateful. To our voters, we promise to continue working for an improved school system that centers equity and supporting all of our students.
We wish Nubia, Regina and Bill the best of luck in serving all the people of South Orange and Maplewood as members of the Board of Education. We plan on remaining involved in our community’s conversations about doing better together.
Ritu & Will