BY TOM CAIAZZA
EDISON – Ten candidates were whittled down to three Tuesday, April 17, when voters took to the polls to choose members for the township Board of Education.
School board incumbent Susan Scerbo was the leading vote-getter with 2,239 votes, with newcomer Edison Police Deputy Chief Carmelo Vaticano, coming in second with 1932 votes.
Scerbo’s running mate and longtime Board of Education member Joseph Both garnered only 839 votes – putting to an end an 11-year tenure on the board.
Both said it was a good ride.
“It was enjoyable because I was helping kids,” Both said. “I’m glad I was part of it, a team that put together a good system.”
For Vaticano, this was his first foray into governing, but not public service. As deputy police chief, he plans on bringing his management experience to the board, something he said was missing.
“Being a deputy chief, I manage people on a daily basis,” Vaticano said. “It seems to me there is managing that needs to be done on the board.”
Vaticano, like his running mate, Rosemary Meade, who will fill out the third seat that was up for grabs on April 17, plans on doing a lot of learning before truly stepping into his role in helping to shape policy for the school district.
“There is an old Italian phrase,” Vaticano said. “Keep your eyes open, your ears open and your mouth shut. I’m going to learn the job before I do anything.”
Meade, who lost her bid on the board last year by just eight votes, concurred with Vaticano, saying that to be effective, she would have to learn the job first.
“I want to learn what’s going on before I put my 2 cents in,” Meade said.
Meade did have some larger goals that she would like to see met by the board during her tenure.
“I want to make sure our curriculum is going to allow students to be prepared for a global economy,” Meade said.
One other concern is the budget, which failed for a second straight year, this time accompanied by a $79 million bond referendum.
“I would like to make sure our budgets start to pass again,” Meade said. “We do have a good system and we have to keep it that way.”
James McCarthy, who was just 77 votes behind Meade, said that he was “ambivalent” about the whole thing.
McCarthy and his running mate, Veena Iyer who received 1629 votes, filed a complaint with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, saying that Vaticano, Meade and their unsuccessful running mate, David Delmonaco, who received 1517 votes, improperly disclosed campaign finances that were transferred from an account held by friends of Bill Stevens for mayor.
That complaint is still pending, and McCarthy, who said he would have brought his experience with finances to the board, has not ruled out another run next year, but he is not promising anything either.
“I might revisit it again next year,” McCarthy said.
As for Both, he said 11 years was enough for him.
“I don’t think I’ll run again,” Both said. “Eleven years is time.”
He did caution letting politics come too deeply into the Board of Education.
“I’m afraid of politics in the school board,” Both said. “When you give money, isn’t it because you expect something in return? The first concerns should be the kids.”
David Delmonaco and Susan Scerbo could not be reached for comment on this story.
The three remaining candidates who were not able to be reached for comment were Ralph Errico with 884 votes, Robert Barry with 890 votes, and Bob Kertes with 825 votes.
The Edison Board of Education reorganization meeting will be held on Thursday, April 26, at 7 p.m. at the district offices, 312 Pierson St.