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Constance Days-Chapman candidate for school board, sparks during debate at Martin Luther King School Atlantic City in Atlantic City Thursday Oct 24, 2019. . Edward Lea Staff Photographer / Press of Atlantic City

Despite the unofficial election results Tuesday, residents in Atlantic County’s most contested school board races may have to wait a little bit longer to find out who won seats.

Egg Harbor Township, Pleasantville and Atlantic City are all expected to generate large results from mail-in ballots. Atlantic County election officials said as of Tuesday morning, there were more than 9,000 mail-ins countywide with even more uncounted. In Atlantic City there were about 2,000 mail-ins, with 1,200 in Egg Harbor Township, and nearly 800 in Pleasantville.

In Atlantic City, unofficial results show incumbents Walter Johnson and Constance Days-Chapman, along with newcomer Jarrod Barnes leading the race for the three open school board seats as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday with 20 of 21 districts reporting.

The Egg Harbor Township Board of Education race, with all but one district reporting, was extremely close with four of the five candidates nearly tied. Incumbents Lou Della Barca had 22.7%, Marita Sullivan had 23.7%, Ray Ellis Jr. had 23.4% and Patrick Ireland trailed at 22%. Natakie Chestnut-Lee garnered only 8.23% of the votes.

The race for EHT’s unexpired term had incumbent Michael Price at 51.2% to Stephen Napoli at 48.8%, trailing by 113 votes.

In the race for Pleasantville’s three open seats, with seven of eight districts reporting, Jerome Page, Ta’Shona Sparkmon and Doris Rowell were leading, according to the unofficial results. Those results have historically changed due to mail-in ballots.

Some races were more clear cut after polls closed Tuesday.

In Lower Township, where ousted school music teacher David Morrison made a bid for a seat on the local school board over what he saw as his unfair dismissal, incumbent Charles P. Utsch and newcomers Sally Drozd Yerk and Nichole Koch lead the unofficial results. Drozd Yerk has 20.84%, Koch had 18.21% and Utsch had 16.45%. Morrison received the fourth-highest vote total at 15.91%.

Long Beach Island Consolidated District had two contested races in this year’s election, as the district is dealing with a local controversy over a proposal to close one of the island’s schools.

Incumbent Marilyn Wasilewski of Barnegat Light won easily with 72.4% of the votes, unofficial results show. Newcomer Brielle Hoffacker unseated incumbent Bonnie Picaro in Long Beach, the unofficial results show.

This year, 1,560 board of education positions were on the ballot statewide, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association. More than 90% of school districts now conduct November elections. Only 15 school districts hold their annual elections in April.

This year, the rate of candidacy decreased as only 1,980 candidates filed petitions to run for the 1,560 school board positions on the ballot — approximately 1.27 candidates per open seat down from 1.34 in 2018.

In 2017, the ratio was 1.29 candidates per seat.

Contact: 609-272-7251

CLowe@pressofac.com

Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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