The Asbury Park Press reports: With the backing of private-school leaders and senior citizens fed up with tax hikes, a team of three fiscally conservative newcomers swept the Board of Education elections Tuesday, riding a tide of frustration that ultimately rejected the district budget for the fifth straight year.
Carl Fink, Yechezkel Seitler and Isaac Zlatkin took 75 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results from the Ocean County Clerk’s Office, crushing two other challengers as well as the lone incumbent, Tracey Tift.
“People were fed up with the taxes going up for the last 10 years, and they all came out from wall to wall, from all factions, and voted for immediate and all-encompassing change to the board,” Seitler said.
The three had held fast to a platform of a zero-percent tax increase for a budget that proposed an almost 11 percent tax rate hike. The plan, whether probable or not, apparently resonated, garnering support from senior communities and the endorsement of the Igud, a group of private school leaders that can bring large numbers of voters to the polls.
“The (three) candidates have run an effective campaign on a platform of fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency,” the Igud stated in a written release. “They are already being heralded as consensus builders across Lakewood’s diverse communities.”
Seitler said Tuesday he plans to keep his promise of a zero tax increase.
Fink, a member of the senior community, pulled in the most votes at 4,540, or 28 percent. Close behind were Seitler and Zlatkin, two parents of private-school students who each captured 24 percent of the votes, or 3,898 and 3,931, respectively. Tift faced his first general election Tuesday after replacing Avid Braude, who resigned in January 2009. He received 1,786 votes, or 11 percent. Challengers Yisrael Friedman and Morris Wilder trailed with 4 percent and 9 percent of votes, or 707 and 1,535, respectively.
Incumbents Alan Gonter and Meir Neumann did not run for re-election. Ada Gonzalez, an incumbent who replaced former board President Chet Galdo, won an uncontested one-year unexpired term.
The $137.9 million budget failed with nearly 90 percent of voters rejecting a 9 percent jump in the tax levy – an increase current school officials blamed largely on drastic state aid cuts.