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Westfield Voters Pass Both Budget and Molnar Taylor and Kessler Win Board of Education Seats 97apr16


Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

Westfield school officials are probably breathing a sigh of relief after town voters approved both parts of the $44 million school tax levy during Tuesday’s election. Voters also reelected Dr. B. Carol Molnar of Wychwood Road along with Thomas Taylor of Madison Avenue and Michael J. Kessler of Park Street to the board.

Twenty percent of Westfield’s 19,149 registered voters took part in the election. The second question, which was required under new state guidelines, includes the automation of the district’s school libraries as well as a number of capital projects.

Officials had expressed concern over the second question, believing most voters might believe this was "excessive" spending.

First-term incumbent board member Thomas P. Madaras of Surrey Lane, who finished fifth among the six candidates, was defeated by some 660 votes. Patrick Keenoy of Harrow Road, who finished fourth, missed a board seat by 471 tallies, the closest among the three candidates who were not elected. Mark Kabakow of Orenda Circle finished 1,235 votes short of a seat.

Board Vice President John M. Toriello did not seek reelection.

The first question, which asked voters to approve $42.94 million to be raised in taxes, was supported by 72 percent of the voters. The tally was 2,756 to 1,064. The second question did nearly as well with 71 percent, 2,733 to 1,089, voting in favor of the additional $1.59 million to be raised in local property taxes.

One glitch was reported during the election at the Franklin Elementary School in the Fourth Ward where long lines were reported. School officials said there were some problems with the keys on the voting machines.

The machines were delivered by the office of the Union County Clerk which has overseen the school elections the past two years. The Town Clerk’s office was in charge of tabulating the results of the election.

Also, officials said voters appeared somewhat confused as to where to vote since school elections are now conducted the same way as the general and primary elections with 11 polling places. In the past there were four polling sites, one for each ward.

In winning her fourth term on the board, Dr. Molnar became only the fifth board member since 1871 to accomplish the feat of serving more than nine years. Terms on the board run for three years.

Susan Jacobson, currently the board President, has served since 1987. Former board President Susan H. Pepper served from 1985 to 1995. Robert Snevily was on the board from 1922 to 1932 while Blanche Sourbier served for 11 years from 1928 to 1939.

The top vote getter Tuesday was Mr. Taylor with 2,160, followed by Dr. Molnar with 2,051, Mr. Kessler with 2,031, Mr. Madaras who garnered 1,502 and Mr. Kabakow who received 796 tallies. Mr. Kabakow operates firms specializing in financing business expansion and managing municipal loan programs.

Mr. Taylor, an attorney, served on the board from 1984 to 1987. He co-chaired the Citizens Search Committee which was formed to hire the previous schools superintendent, Dr. Mark C. Smith. He also chaired the Staff Relations Committee.

The newly elected board ,member is a 1968 graduate of Westfield High School. He has children who will be in the high school and Roosevelt Intermediate School, come September.

Mr. Kessler, a resident since 1991, has children enrolled in the local school system at McKinley Elementary School, Edison Intermediate School and at the high school Employed by Lucent Technologies, his background is in the area of accounting and finance.

Dr. Molnar is an attorney and former Planning Board member. She also has children in the local school system.

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