Benjamin L. Salerno

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Benjamin L. Salerno
Benjamin L. Salerno.jpg
Former candidate for
Perth Amboy Board of Education, At-large
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 5, 2013
Term limitsN/A
Benjamin L. Salerno was a candidate for an at-large seat on the Perth Amboy Board of Education in New Jersey. He lost his election bid on November 5, 2013 against eight other candidates for three available seats. Salerno previously ran for election in November 2012 and sought a vacancy left by Kurt Rebovich in December 2012 that was filled by Anton J. Massopust.[1]


Salerno graduated from the New Jersey Police Academy and the DEA Drug Unit Commander Academy. He has been a detective with the Perth Amboy Police Department since 1988.[2] Salerno and his wife have two children.[3]



See also: Perth Amboy Public Schools elections (2013)


Salerno sought election to the board against eight other candidates in the November 5, 2013 general election. He ran with incumbent Mark Carvajal as part of the United for Better Education slate before disbanding the slate in early October. Salerno stated that he wanted to separate his campaign from the tensions on the existing board.[4]


Perth Amboy Board of Education, At-large General election, 3-year term, 2013, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngIsrael Varela Incumbent 17.1% 1,741
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAnthony Bermudez 16.4% 1,666
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSamuel Lebreault 15.3% 1,559
     Nonpartisan Mark Carvajal Incumbent 11.4% 1,161
     Nonpartisan Anton J. Massopust Incumbent 10.7% 1,090
     Nonpartisan Reyes Ortega 10.4% 1,061
     Nonpartisan Benjamin L. Salerno 10.1% 1,026
     Nonpartisan Junior Iglesia 4.6% 472
     Nonpartisan Damaris Isales 3.9% 392
Total Votes 10,168
Source: Middlesex County, "Election Results," November 12, 2013</ref>


Salerno reported no contributions or expenditures to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.[5]


Salerno did not receive any endorsements in this election.


Salerno ran for election to the board on November 6, 2012 but placed ninth out of ten candidates for three available seats.

Perth Amboy Board of Education, November 6, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngWilliam Ortiz 15.8% 2,237
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngKenneth J. Puccio 12.6% 1,785
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngObdulia Gonzalez 12.1% 1,722
     Nonpartisan Nina Perkins Nieves 9.5% 1,347
     Nonpartisan Jeanette Gonzalez 8.9% 1,263
     Nonpartisan Junior Iglesia 8.8% 1,255
     Nonpartisan Reyes Ortega 8.5% 1,208
     Nonpartisan Samuel Lebreault 8.5% 1,205
     Nonpartisan Benjamin L. Salerno 7.7% 1,092
     Nonpartisan Maria Rojas 7.6% 1,077
Total Votes 14,191
Source: City of Perth Amboy

Campaign themes


In an interview with, Salerno explained his top priorities in the 2013 campaign:[6]

"The first goal of myself and my running mate Board President Mark Carvajal will be to participate in the selection of a new superintendent of Schools since our current superintendent concludes her term at the end of this school year. It is imperative that the new superintendent is in place by this summer so that there is a seamless transition. To ensure that this occurs the Board will have to focus its efforts this winter and spring on hiring the best qualified candidate who is willing to implement reforms needed to improve our district and also be willing to work with the various community stakeholders as the new superintendent sets their own developmental goals for the district.

A second goal must continue to be finding ways to address the overcrowding issues throughout the entire district but most especially at Perth Amboy High School. This will require that the Board works to repair its relationship with the state in order to secure monies to build a new high school and at least one new elementary school. We should also seriously consider seeking funds to build an addition to the existing high school as an interim step. By locating additional classroom space we can begin to reduce class size so that we caqn try to improve our student performance."

Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.

What was at stake?

Incumbents Mark Carvajal, Anton J. Massopust and Israel Varela sought re-election to the board. They were challenged by six other candidates for three available seats.


Tense relationship with superintendent

The Board of Education and Superintendent Janine Caffrey have developed a contentious relationship over the past four years. Caffrey has been removed by board votes in April and October 2012 but remained in office due to the intervention of the New Jersey Education Commissioner. These suspensions occurred because of allegations that Caffrey circumvented the board when implementing counseling programs and manipulated contracts to avoid bidding procedures.[7] The board voted in October 2013 to remove Caffrey and seek an interim superintendent to serve through June 2014. Board member William Ortiz noted after the vote that the district is seeking someone with "emotional IQ with people" to replace Caffrey.[8] Judge Kimberly Moss rejected Caffrey's appeal for reinstatement on November 7.[9]

Caffrey countered that board members Obdulia Gonzalez, Milady Tejada and Israel Varela were deflecting attention from state ethics investigations. The Office of Administrative Law held hearings on October 16 into accusations of ethics violations by the three board members. Gonzalez, Tejada and Varela were accused of colluding with local unions to increase pressure for Caffrey's removal and paying reporters to write inaccurate stories about the superintendent. The second allegation stemmed from local reports that Caffrey spent time in a mental health hospital in 2009.[8]

About the district

See also: Perth Amboy Public Schools, New Jersey
Perth Amboy Public Schools is located in Middlesex County, New Jersey
Perth Amboy is located along the Raritan River in Middlesex County, New Jersey. The population of Perth Amboy was 50,814 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.[10]


Perth Amboy lagged behind state rates for poverty, median income and higher education achievement in 2010. The city had a poverty rate of 19.9% in the 2010 U.S. Census while the state rate was 9.4%. The 2010 U.S. Census calculated Perth Amboy's median income at $45,369 while the state median income was $71,180. The percentage of city residents over 25 years old with undergraduate degrees (15%) is below the state average (35%).[10]

Racial Demographics, 2010[10]
Race Perth Amboy (%) New Jersey (%)
White 50.3 68.6
Black or African American 10.5 13.7
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.1 0.3
Asian 1.7 8.3
Two or More Races 5.6 2.7
Hispanic or Latino 78.1 17.7

Presidential Voting Pattern[11]
Year Democratic Vote (%) Republican Vote (%)
2012 82.5 16.9
2008 86.9 12.3
2004 - -
2000 - -

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[12]

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