ELIZABETH — Three sitting members of the Board of Education will be challenged by a slate of newcomers recruited by the city’s political machine to disrupt reformers’ primary election efforts aimed at displacing state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the power broker who is sponsoring legislation to privatize public education.
Lesniak is expected to bankroll a massive campaign effort for three inexperienced candidates, recruited by associates of Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, who are running against Francisco González, Fernando Nazco, and Paul M. Perreira.
Lesniak’s law firm collects about $3½ million a year from no-bid contracts with school districts and other property tax-funded entities and he has long wished to add Elizabeth to his domain, spending in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars on propaganda advocating his favored nominees.
This year, Lesniak’s slate includes Silvia P. Nasi of Magie Avenue, a 29-year-old mother active in the local Peruvian community who registered to vote in January 2004 and has never cast a ballot in a school board election.
Also running at power broker’s behest is Charlene Bathelus, another contender who never voted in a school board election and who lives with her parents, Charles and Yolande Bathelus, at Catherine Street.
The third is Jose Rodriguez of Jackson Avenue, whose brother Eduardo ran as a spoiler in last year’s primary election to stymie the candidacy of Democrat Lester Dominguez, who challenged Councilman Bill Gallman. Rodriguez voted once in a school election, in 2007.
González has served on the Elizabeth Board of Education since 2005 and he is a retired software engineer for the Mobility Unit of Alcatel-Lucent.
Nazco, a board member since 2007, is the father of three young children and owner of Gleek & Howard Opticians.
Perreira, a father of two children, is a lifelong resident of Elizabeth and a data center manager at Americatel Corporation in New York City. He was appointed to fill the seat relinquished by former board member Rafael J. Fajardo.
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