Barnegat Leader

Upstarts Sweep Incumbents in Barnegat School Board Race

By Eric Englund | Nov 15, 2019

Barnegat — It appears voters wanted change on the Barnegat Board of Education as the three candidates who ran under the slogan “A New Voice for Barnegat” swept the Nov. 5 election by winning three-year terms. Sean O’Brien led all vote getters, with 1,919, followed by Robert Sawicki with 1,644 and Richard Quelch with 1,619. Both Quelch and Sawicki had previously run unsuccessfully, while O’Brien is a first-time candidate

Board President Scott Sarno fell short with 1,473 votes, followed by incumbent Peter Toth with 1,272 and a newcomer, Wayne Eslinger, who received 1,172. Sarno was seeking his third three-year term, while Toth was running for his second. Newcomer George Fedorczyk received 1,075. D.D. Verdolino received 700 votes.

Christine Harashinski did not seek a second three-year term.

I am both humbled and honored that you all have placed your confidence and support in me to serve on the Board of Education,” wrote Quelch on a Facebook post. “Your participation in this election clearly showed you all wanted ‘A New Voice’ for Barnegat. You wanted a change and new leadership for our district. I am determined and devoted to bringing that to the board of education.

“Our school district and children deserve only the best. It’s time to make that happen. I am energized and enthusiastic to begin this position and work for all of you.”

“People wanted a new voice, and they got it,” said O’Brien. “I never dreamed I’d be the top vote-getter.

“We really want to give all the children of Barnegat the best education we can, which will make our entire community better. It’s important to keep the momentum going and drive the change we are all looking to achieve. We will not lose focus.”

Sarno said he would continue to take an interest in school matters because he has a daughter attending the high school.

“I’ve won elections, I’ve lost elections,” he said. “That’s how it is in Barnegat, always very competitive. I’m still proud of what this board accomplished the last five years. We have reduced local taxes three of the past five years, and had a zero percent increase the other two years. Also, during that time we’ve increased staff, programs and added new computers, security, books, kindergarten classes and made improvements to every building in the district.”

The new board members will be sworn in when the board reorganizes in January. At that time, a new president will be elected by the board members.

“I don’t know how that’s going to go because we’re still a minority,” said Quelch. “But at least this is a start.”

— Eric Englund

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