'It is a New Day in Parsippany' As Change Comes to Board of Education

Budget narrowly passes; ticket of Shamsudin, Golderer and Martin unseats incumbent Choffo.

Provisional ballots must still be counted, but as of now, it appears voters have chosen Sharif Shamsudin, Susy Golderer and Gary Martin in Wednesday's school election to serve on the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education. The $129.8 million school budget for 2011-12 won approval by a slim margin.

Golderer came in first after the final tally, including absentee ballots, with 3,004 votes, according to Town Clerk Judy Silver. Shamsudin followed with 2,727 and Martin came in third with 2,465 votes.

In the budget ballot, 2,667 votes in favor were cast versus 2,525 votes opposed.

Unseated incumbent Andrew Choffo, who tallied 1,020 votes and came in sixth place, was gracious in defeat.

"I was mentally prepared for this," he said after the final numbers of the night were released. "People had a strong desire for change. Plus, there is an anti-incumbent sentiment all over the country right now. The people have spoken, and I accept that."

School Superintendent LeRoy Seitz, whose controversial contract helped fuel citizens' call for change on the BOE, said he was grateful that Parsippany residents supported the budget.

"This will enable us to continue the quality programs we offer and provide students an education that will serve them now and in the future," he said.

The vote totals, pending the addition of provisional ballots, are as follows:

Susy Golderer 3,004 Sharif Shamsudin 2,727 Gary Martin 2,465 Alison Cogan 2,143 Carol Trapp 1,154 Andrew Choffo 1,020 Joseph Raich    785 Richard Gerstl    397 John Harrison    379

Asked what his first act will be as a board member, an elated Shamsudin said, "The voters said they want change. The first thing I'll do is work to change the leadership of the Board of Education."

He chalked up his ticket's victory to hard work. 

"We knocked on doors and spent election day making phone calls to get people to the polls," he said. "We listened to what the voters want because what they have to say is important. It is a new day in Parsippany. The people will have a voice. Change has come." 

The Board of Education reorganization meeting takes place Thursday, May 5 in the Parsippany High School auditorium at 7 p.m.

Hank Heller May 06, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Steve, Thanks for your nice words. I don't know what Mr. Stumolo and Dr. Calabria had in mind. If this is a group selected by the various factions on a "one for you, one for me" basis, it will never work because meaningful and respectful change won't happen. We saw the effect of that process play out last night during the public portion of the meeting. Both contributors are good people, I believe, but if it is a game of "I throw my trump card on top of your trump card" forget change and forget progress. If it were a work group selected based upon intellect and honesty to really help solve the problems of the BOE it might have a chance to help the community come together. If the purpose is to put the public to "sleep" so the BOE can have peace while it continues on with somewhat milder methods than have been used in the recent past, it won't work. Dr. Calabria made a good beginning, based upon his self-effacing demeanor and basic "niceness". He, you and I know that that will only take us so far. He must know that 2 Vice Presidents are not a lawful answer to the current problem of leadership. He will have to make some hard and smart decisions soon. We cannot all be satisfied with just a kindly leader because the VOTERS have spoken so LOUDLY. If actions like the Seitz contract debacle where to occur again with Calabria "niceness" instead of Mancuso heavy-handedness, the result would still be the same. Rebellion by the voters, which is what we have. Hank Heller
Hank Heller May 06, 2011 at 03:02 PM
"nancy", I am starting to think that maybe you do not like me. Is that possible??? Your rationale for calling me a hypocrite is really silly, don't you think? Not having school age children means I do not have the right to an opinion? Is it only "young" people who should be able to vote in BOE elections? Or is it only people who believe and will vote as you do? Isn't just being a taxpaying citizen enough? If you want to debate the reasons why I urged people to vote against Andy in these blog pages, let's get together and discuss the issues. We can do it privately or publicly, I don't care. You call the shot; when, where and in what forum. The voters of Parsippany voted for the budget but declined to vote for the incumbent and other Mancuso supporters. Doesn't that tell you anything at all? You can attack me all you want if it makes you feel better. I wasn't running for office. The problem is that your attacks only make you look foolish. You ought to re-think your approach. Hank Heller
Nancy May 06, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Nothing so obstinately stands in the way of all sorts of progress as pride of opinion. While nothing is so foolish and baseless.
Leo Ballard May 06, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Nancy, you imply that the incoming board members are more concerned with their wallets than the educational system. I assume you mean less spending, less taxes. I have to think the trio is aware that any money-saving actions that weaken the school district would be terribly misguided in the long-term. A less desirable school system weakens home values which at the end of the day would hit everyone's finances a lot harder.
Nancy May 06, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Leo, I agree. I do not favor higher taxes on anyone. We pay far too much already. Our home values have already fallen in recent years. I believe that the BOE's policy of tax and spend has ended with the passing of a good budget this year.


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