Montclair school board will seek someone to fill the late Alfred Davis Jr.’s seat
By TALIA WIENER
The Montclair Board of Education will vote on a resolution Monday asking for qualified candidate recommendations to fill the seat of the late Alfred Davis Jr.
The board approved a March election earlier this month, intended to fill the two seats created when voters last month approved a conversion from a “Type I” to a “Type II” school district system — doing away with mayoral appointment of school board members and expanding the body from seven to nine members.
Going forward, members will be selected in elections, as they are in 97% of New Jersey municipalities.
Under the new Type II system, the board is tasked with filling Davis’ seat within 65 days of its vacancy. Davis died Dec. 2 — making the effective deadline to fill his seat Feb. 5.
Interested parties must submit a letter of interest and a resume to the board by Jan. 5, according to the resolution. Candidates will be interviewed Jan. 12 during a special meeting of the board and Jan. 19 during a regularly scheduled board meeting.
“The board intends to take action to fill the vacancy,” the resolution states.
Board members expect to discuss the process further during the Monday meeting — including whether the interviews will be open to the public, when the board expects to select a candidate and term length of the new member — board president Latifah Jannah told Montclair Local Sunday.
Charlene Peterson, Essex County representative for the New Jersey School Boards Association, told Montclair Local earlier this month the timing of Davis’ death makes the path ahead unclear. Davis died just after the board set the March election for the two new seats.
Davis remembered as a leader with a warm smile
His seat is one of three that would also go before voters in the November 2022 election, for terms beginning in January 2023. Under the Type I system, the term Davis was filling and those of Jannah and board vice president Priscilla Church would have expired in May of 2022, but they’ll be extended to meet the adjusted cycle.
State law would have a member chosen by the board serve until the next election. But if the board selects someone within the 65 days — putting that person in place before the March special election — it’s not clear if that would mean until March or until the regular November election, Peterson said.
UPDATE, Tuesday, Dec. 21: Jannah said Monday night the person chosen to fill Davis' seat would serve until January.
Any candidate must be at least 18 years old, be able to read and write, be a resident of Montclair for at least one year preceding the date of appointment, be registered to vote, satisfy a criminal history background check, have no direct or indirect interest in any contract with or claim against the board and not be the mayor or a township councilor.
Community members who want to run for the Montclair Board of Election during the March election will need to have their petitions — with at least 10 signatures, one of which can be their own — submitted by Jan. 17 at 4 p.m. The only individual so far to publicly announce a run is Noah Gale, a 2018 graduate of Montclair High School. He aims to be the youngest person ever to serve on the board, and the first college student on the board.