Brick Township’s Board of Education will be further split between two factions following Tuesday night’s election, though it is unlikely any major changes will be coming to the district if longtime Board President Stephanie Wohlrab can maintain support through what will now be a single-seat majority.
The seven-member board, though non-partisan, is often populated by those affiliated with the two major political parties. Wohlrab, who was not up for re-election, works professionally as a Democratic political fundraiser for races statewide and will face a board where three of her colleagues are affiliated with the GOP or ran on a conservative platform.
Michael Blandina, a luminary in Brick and Ocean County politics who is a Democrat, lost his seat on the board by a narrow margin to conservative challenger Mike Mesmer, who was supported by the township’s Republican establishment. Mesmer’s running mate, Gregory J. Cohen, was not successful in his bid for a seat on the board.
The largest vote-getter in the race was incumbent Allison Kennedy, who was elected for the first time after being appointed to serve an unexpired term following the resignation of another board member. Kennedy received 8,323 votes, well over a thousand more than any other candidate in the race. Mesmer followed, with 6,865 votes, while Blandina came in third with 6,308 votes. Cohen received 5,381 votes.
Though board members are not strictly tied to party politics, most observers would surmise board members Kennedy, Nicole Siebert and Victoria Pakala would support Wohlrab’s continued tenure as board president. On the opposing side would be Mesmer, and board members Madeline Iannarone and Frances DiBenedictis, all of whom ran campaigns that staunchly opposed policies on parental rights in education that have historically been supported by Gov. Phil Murphy and the legislative Democratic caucus in Trenton.
The board’s next meeting will be held Nov. 14, 2023 at 7 p.m. in the district’s Technology Training Center at the central office, 101 Hendrickson Avenue.