A race of nine candidates vying for two spots has shrunk to five candidates for Toms River Regional's November election for school board.
There are now three residents challenging two school board incumbents.
Two seats representing Toms River are up for grabs. Incumbents Gus Kakavas of Smokerise Lane and Jack Reuther of Arizona Avenue are seeking re-election for the three year terms. They are each seeking a second term, having been elected in 2009. Reuther is the current vice-president of the school board.
Kakavas and Reuther now face three challengers:
- Charlotte Ford Spillane of North Bay Avenue,
- Ginny Rhine of Grand Avenue,
- Joseph Torrone — the spouse of current board member Loreen Torrone, of Stone Hedge Drive.
Originally nine candidates filed to run for the two spots. The deadline to submit a petition to run was June 5.
But Ocean County Clerk Scot Colabella said four candidates — Lisa P. Neumann, Sergio Fossa, Daniel K. Simmons and Brian Geoghegan — have withdrawn before the September deadline. No reason was given.
"Numerous School Board candidates have withdrawn since the June petition filing date. Five School Board Candidates will appear on the Nov 6th ballot. Under State Law I was mandated to present copy for the Official Ballot to the printer on September 17th, and to begin mailing Mail-In Ballots by September 22nd. As such, our office removed any school board candidates name from the ballot if a letter was received from the candidate requesting to withdraw their name in accordance with our statutory deadlines," Colabella said.
This would be the first year for a November school board election for Toms River Regional. All Ocean County School Districts, with the exception of Lakewood, opted to move their School Board elections from April to November as a result of a bill signed into law by Governor Christie in January, which then Toms River Regional voted to move the election locally.
Candidates will be listed in a separate section of the November ballot, as school board elections are nonpartisan.
Additionally, voters in South Toms River will vote for their representative on the school board.
Incumbent Jamie Ann Jubert of Lakeview Drive is seeking re-election. Challenging her is Gidalty "Gigi" Esparza of Red Maple Court.
Jubert has served on the school board since 1995 and previously served as a vice-president to the nine-member school board, which represents Toms River, South Toms River, Pine Beach and Beachwood.
With three seats up for grabs, this year's election could hold the fate of the majority of the Toms River Regional school board. Last year, three candidates running as a "Clean Slate" team campaigned as reformers in the wake of the scandal of former Superintendent Mike Ritacco. The three new board members have voted throughout the year in opposition of some school board agenda items, but do not hold the majority of the board.