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TR School Board Election: Republican Organization, Unions Are Top Campaign Contributors

Toms River Regional (TRRS) Board of Education headquarters. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Toms River Regional (TRRS) Board of Education headquarters. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Campaign contributions show labor unions and the local Republican club are among the major donors to Toms River school board candidates.

The largest contribution reported in the November 6 race for Toms River Regional School Board is $15,000 in contributions from the Toms River Republican Finance Committee to the Christopher Raimann and Jennifer Howe slate, running as Raimann/Howe: Transparency, Tradition, Truth.

The Raimann/Howe slate also reported a $5,000 contribution from the Committee to Elect Kelaher, Kubiel, Hill and Wittman. That committee is named, respectively, for the republican mayor and councilmen of Toms River. The other contribution named in the slate’s financial report required by the state is a $1,500 contribution from the New Jersey Education Association PAC of Trenton, the political action committee of the state teacher’s union.

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A portion of the recent campaign contribution report of the Raimann/Howe campaign, including a $1,000 contribution from NJEA PAC.

According to the campaign’s spending report received by the state November 5, the Raimann/Howe campaign has $24,250 in total reported contributions, the largest among the three slates running for two seats on the board.

There are six candidates running for two seats on the board, with three slates campaigning: Raimann/Howe; Joseph Nardini and Danielle LeBright as Working Together slate; and Robert Onofreitti and Erica Cirillo as the Children, Community First slate.

Raimann and Nardini are incumbents, while Onofreitti previously served on the board but was unsuccessful in his last re-election bid.

The Nardini/LeBright slate reported $16,483 in contributions. The largest ones include: $1,500 from Robert Shimko, union representative of IBEW Local 400 in Wall; $1,300 from local resident Lucille Burger; $1,000 from Frank Sadeghi of Morgan Engineering of Toms River; $1,000 from Plumbers and Pipefitters Union #9 of Englishtown; and $2,000 from Marlene & Mike Perlmutter and $1,000 from Lynn Perlmutter. Daniel Leonard, also a Toms River Regional School Board member, contributed $350 to the Nardini/LeBright campaign.

The Onofreitti/Cirillo slate filed no contribution documents as their contributions did not total enough to be reported through those forms, Onofreitti said.

He said he spoke with the state ELEC division directly to verify his reporting, and was told “because my contributions are not going to go over $9,625 … And none of my donations are over $300. The first document that I filed I had to attest that I would not go over that amount, and I most certainly did not.”

The race for Toms River school board comes amid an ethics complaint one board member filed against another — with Raimann saying Leonard has been leaking information from executive committees, according to the Asbury Park Press article, with Raimann becoming the subject of an ethics complaint himself.

Also, Raimann and Nardini are former runningmates, but instead are running opposing slates — with Nardini criticizing Raimann’s campaign literature as untruthful about the two men’s voting on school board issues.

The school district is also facing major financial decisions after the state announced a heavy cut to state aid over several years. The district is also planning for a January referendum to pay for repairs and upgrades to its aging infrastructure.

More about the TRBOE candidates:

Raimann, a supervisor in the county sheriff’s office who also has two children in the school district, is seeking his second term. He is joined by Jennifer Howe, a parent of six children, five of whom currently attend Toms River Regional, and is a regular speaker and attendee at school board meetings.

Nardini, also seeking his second term, is joined by LeBright, who served for 11 years on the Cedar Grove Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization. Nardini is a 45-year resident of Toms River, and current board vice president.

Onofreitti, a local business owner, was first elected in 2014 along with members of what was then known as the “Clean Slate Team.” Last year he sought re-election alongside Cirillo, who is an advocate for special education students and  vice president of the Toms River schools Special Education Inspire Board.

The seats are full, three-year terms.


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