By JESSE WINTER
For The Leader/Times
AREA — Summer is waning, the 2021 school year is here — and the Tuesday, November 2 General Election is approaching fast.
At the ballot box, communities across Union County will elect members of their local school boards. In addition to municipal government, local school boards play a significant role in shaping the policies of their communities. The individuals each community elects as school-board members represent the concerns of taxpayers and parents and the needs of students, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA).
In Westfield, voters will choose three candidates from a field of seven to fill three-year terms. Incumbents Gretchan Ohlig and Tara Oporto did not file for reelection. Robert S. Garrison of Kimball Avenue is running for reelection under the slogan Because Experience Matters. Joining Mr. Garrison on the ballot are Mary Wickens of Tudor Oval, under the slogan Accountability and Integrity; Kristen T. Sonnek-Schmelz of Harding Street; Emily Barker of Longfellow Avenue; Robert H. Benacchio of Forest Avenue, under the slogan For Our Families; Kent Diamond of Nancy Way, under the slogan Because Experience Matters, and Ilya Eric Kolchinsky of Barchester Way, under the slogan No Masks.
In Scotch Plains, voters will choose three candidates from a field of six to fill three-year terms on the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education. Incumbents Karen Kulikowski of Watchung Terrace, board president; Tonya Y. Williams of Sycamore Avenue, and Debora Brody of Lake Avenue will face challengers David Levine of Chiplou Lane, Michael R. Gromek of Inverness Drive, under the slogan Achievement, Community, Tradition, and Timothy J. Mehl, Jr. of Dogwood Drive, under the slogan For Our Kids.
In Garwood, Board President Ralph Trentacosta and Vice President Maureen Scepkowski did not file for reelection. Three candidates have filed for the three open three-year-term seats: Jennifer Uva of Hazel Avenue; April Farrell of Third Avenue, under the slogan Children First, and Salvatore Piarulli of 4th Avenue. Additionally, Tracy Roland of Third Avenue is the sole candidate running for reelection to a two-year unexpired term, under the slogan Integrity Positivity Results.
Cranford voters will choose three candidates for three-year board terms. Incumbents Maria Loikith of Brown Terrace, William Hulse of Keith Jeffries Avenue and Terry Darling of Hillcrest Avenue will face newcomer Elissa Comer of Tulip Street.
In Clark, three seats are up, with incumbents Scott Bohm of Grove Street, Robert Smorol of Acken Drive and Dino Bencivenga of Liberty Street facing off against newcomers Erik Jacobsen of Lincoln Boulevard, Corey McGuire of Valley Road and Diana Caamano Gonzalez of Stemmer Drive running under the slogan Stand for Students.
In Mountainside, incumbents Jordan Hyman of Central Avenue and Candice Schiano of Summit Road are unopposed.
There is no board of education election in Fanwood this year.
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