HomeWashington Twp. NewsIncumbents, newcomer to fill township school board seats

Incumbents, newcomer to fill township school board seats

The Gloucester County Clerk’s Office certified the general election results on Nov. 22

Seven candidates, including two incumbents, ran for the three, three-year-term open seats on the Washington Township board of education in the Nov. 7 election. There was also an unexpired one-year term open on the board.

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Newcomer Patricia Blome garnered the most votes with 5,983, followed by incumbent Scott Laliberte with 5,792 votes, and incumbent Ralph E. Ross, Sr. received 4,338 votes.

Bonnie Marano, Thomas P. Baldosaro, Jim Mckeever, and Daniel Woodington received 4,278, 4,080, 4,015, and 3,270 votes, respectively, in their bids for the seats.

There were 473 write-in votes.

Steven Serrano ran unopposed in the uncontested unexpired one-year term on the board. He received 7,547 votes. There were 973 write-in votes.

Ahead of the general election, we asked candidates why they were running for an elected seat and what they would like to concentrate on as an elected official.

Blome will begin her first elected term when the board reorganizes in January.

Why are you running for a seat on the board of education?

I am running for a position on the board of education because education has been important to me for well over 40 years. Two of my four children are teachers. I continue to learn about the needs of our schools and our students from conversations with them as well as friends that I have in the education field. I continue to spend time thinking about, reading about, and learning about current trends in education. I also have personal views about what “best” practices actually work for our students. If I am elected, you will not hear me using popular words like “transparency” in discussions. I will be listening, researching, learning, sharing ideas, and trying to represent our students, staff members, parents, and citizens of Washington Township. I will actively model what “transparency” looks like in a board member.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

Thinking about just one area is difficult. There are so many areas that impact our schools and our tax dollars. A few years ago, our district initiated a “Welcome Home” program in order to educate as many of our students as possible at our home schools instead of sending them to schools outside of our district. The goal of this initiative is to educate our own students right here and to save the district the staggering cost of sending a student out of the district to be educated. It is an honorable goal. I would like to help the district find ways of making these classrooms the best placement for the students who attend special education programs throughout our district. I believe there are some changes that we need to consider in order to truly make this happen for our students.

Laliberte ran for the one-year term in November 2022. He also filled an open seat for six months in 2022 when a board member resigned. He will begin his new term when the board reorganizes in January.

Why are you running for an elected seat?

I see the need for pragmatic, level-headed, unconflicted, concerned citizens to serve on the board of education.  During the pandemic, I became concerned about the learning loss with our students. I began attending board of education meetings and saw a lack of trust from the community, scandals with board members and quite a bit of dysfunction. I have always been a person who believes that rather than complain about a problem, get involved and try to fix it. I believe I bring a practical approach to the BOE, trying to understand the issues and looking for reasonable solutions.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

I believe we have made great progress in the area of school safety over the last year by working with our local officials to get a police officer in every school building. While student safety always remains a top priority, I believe the main focus now has to be improving student achievement for all students. We need to identify new, innovative approaches to combat the learning loss that occurred during the pandemic and put our students back on the road to academic success.  We need to prepare them for success after graduation whether that be college, trades, or service.

Ross did not return an election questionnaire. He will begin his next term when the board reorganizes in January.


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