South Toms River voters chose challenger Gigi Esparza over longtime incumbent Jamie Jubert for the Toms River Regional school board seat.
One seat on the Toms River Regional School board was up for grabs, and 57 votes separated the challenger and incumbent.
Longtime incumbent Jamie Jubert lost by 57 votes. Challenger Gidalty "Gigi" Esparza took the one seat representing South Toms River.
Gigi Esparza, 458 votes, 53.26 percent
Jamie Jubert, 401 votes, 46.63 percent
Write-in: 1 vote
860 votes total.
The school board, a regional one, has a seat for South Toms River, Pine Beach and Beachwood.
Esparza, a stay at home mom; previously held the title of Administrative Assistant at Lakewood Development Corporation.
The 32 year-old told Toms River Patch she was motivated to run because of the Ritacco scandal and because her children will enter the district.
"As a taxpayer, a resident and a Mom, I have a vested interest in the success of Toms River Schools. Next year my daughter will be starting school in the District. I want to ensure that we have proper oversight and never let what happened under Ritacco ever happen again. Toms River needs board members that can be held accountable and take our Schools to a higher degree of excellence," she said.
Representing South Toms River's students, Esparza's seat works closely with South Toms River Elementary, Intermediate South and High School South, but votes on all board matters.
"I plan to serve the School Board by carefully monitoring how taxpayer dollars are being spent while ensuring our students are receiving the best educations possible. When I’m on the School Board I will make sure that the taxpayers and students of South Toms River have a strong voice representing them," she said.
Esparza added: "Toms River Schools need a board whose activities are determined by the voters who voted them in. We need an accountable board that will work together to achieve common goals. The board must be willing to take responsibility for the decisions that affect the lives of the students, the parents, the district employees and the economic well-being of the community."