Yesterday’s school board elections might have been proxy wars for some ambitious politicians.
They might also have been unmistakable signals to some of them to find a new calling.
Whether it was Ras Baraka’s slate in Newark getting over half the votes, or Nick Sacco’s slate in North Bergen getting almost 80 percent of ballots cast, the people who did vote in these low turnout affairs sent a message.
This means something, because the people who tend to vote in school board elections are the parents, maybe the homeowners who pay property taxes, and of course, public employees whose jobs depend on the schools.
Since school board elections deal with bread and butter fiscal issues and almost never about avant-garde social policies like transgender rights and abortion rights, the voters who usually get motivated by those issues stayed home. So it seems the Millennials, the progressives who backed Bernie Sanders and so on, didn’t vote and left school board decisions to the parents and teachers.
The numbers that count — the numbers of votes! — tell us that once these groups are out of the equation, the incumbents are pretty safe.
It also suggests that the challengers, who want to get elected for some reason, don’t really have an articulable message for voters beyond “so-and-so sucks” and “just trust me, I’ll be better.”
Jersey voters are rightfully skeptical. Especially when their kids are involved.
For the ambitious wannabes, yesterday made it clear that in some big towns and cities, they lack a message, a reason to run, and any real public support.
Maybe some of these people should take a cue from the numbers: it’s time to move on.