Carol Lester

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Carol Lester
Carol Lester.jpg
Board Member, Jersey City School Board, At-large
Former candidate
Term ends
November 2013
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 5, 2013
First electedApril, 2010
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sTemple University
Office website
Campaign website
Carol Lester was an at-large member of the Jersey City School Board in New Jersey. She was first elected to the chamber in 2010. Lester lost her re-election bid on November 5, 2013.


Lester resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. Lester earned her B.S. degree in Business Marketing from Temple University. She began her career as a marketer in Madison Avenue before she co-founded The Learning Community Charter School and served as its board president for six years. Lester now works as a singer-songwriter and operates an "ABC Sing With Me" music business catering to infants and toddlers.[1][2]



See also: Jersey City Public Schools elections (2013)


Lester challenged fellow incumbent Angel Valentin for an at-large seat with a one-year term in the general election on November 5, 2013. Lester was a member of the slate of candidates endorsed by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and campaigned under the name "Candidates for Excellence," which included Micheline Amy, Jessica Daye and Ellen Simon running for the three-year term seats. Valentin was a member of the separate "Children First" slate of candidates, which included Gerald Lyons, Lorenzo Richardson and Gina Verdibello running for the three-year term seats.


Jersey City Public Schools, At-large General Election, Unexpired term, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAngel Valentin Incumbent 54.1% 7,698
     Nonpartisan Carol Lester Incumbent 45.7% 6,506
     Nonpartisan Personal choice 0.2% 26
Total Votes 14,230
Source: Hudson County Clerk, "Official Election Results," November 14, 2013


Lester ran as part of the Friends of Amy, Daye, Simon and Lester, which reported $35,360.49 in contributions and $11,505.03 in expenditures to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.[3]


Lester received an endorsement for her campaign from Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.[4] She also received endorsements from board members Vidya Gangadin, Sangeeta Ranade and Carol Harrison-Arnold along with Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro and Councilwomen Diane Coleman and Candice Osborne.[5]


Jersey City Public Schools, At-large General Election, 3-year term, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngSterling Waterman 21% 7,369
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAngel Valentin Incumbent 19.5% 6,851
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngCarol Lester 11.5% 4,036
     Nonpartisan Sebastian D'Amico 10.5% 3,680
     Nonpartisan Gerald McCann 6.9% 2,410
     Nonpartisan L. Terry Dehere 6.8% 2,380
     Nonpartisan Hiral Patel 6.6% 2,306
     Nonpartisan Anthony Sharperson 3.2% 1,118
     Nonpartisan Evelyn Farmer 2.8% 986
     Nonpartisan Kevin Armstrong 2.1% 735
     Nonpartisan Arthur Zigman 2.1% 722
     Nonpartisan Gerald Lyons 2% 720
     Nonpartisan June A. Mulqueen 1.6% 561
     Nonpartisan John R. Muniz 1.4% 485
     Nonpartisan Aura Ordonez 1.3% 460
     Nonpartisan Marimer Navarrete 0.8% 271
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.1% 34
Total Votes 35,124
Source: Hudson County, New Jersey, "School Board Election Results," accessed October 31, 2013

Campaign themes

As part of the "Candidates for Excellence," Lester shared the following campaign themes with Micheline Amy, Ellen Simon and Jessica Daye:[6]

  • We believe the best way to improve public schools is by focusing community-wide efforts on public schools, by better engaging public school parents and attracting new families to public schools.
  • We believe every child can learn and every child deserves access to a quality education.
  • We support the administration’s efforts to increase the number of African-American and Latino students doing advanced work in elementary school and college-prep work in middle school and high school.
  • We support the administration’s efforts to lower the drop-out numbers, which resulted last year in the lowest number of drop-outs in a decade. We support the district’s plan to follow up with children who do drop out to find a way for them to earn a high-school degree or GED.
  • We support more alternative paths for children returning to school from the criminal justice system.
  • We support a longer school day, with time for children to have recess.
  • We support the goal, laid out in the mayor’s transition report, to build a playground at every elementary and grade school, so every child has a safe place to play.
  • We believe a one-size-fits all curriculum doesn’t work. We believe in giving teachers flexibility. We believe in differentiated instruction.
  • We want translation services, both at schools and at Board meetings, for families.
  • We want clean schools. Our schools suffer from chronic absenteeism on the part of many janitors. We support the district’s efforts to solve this problem.
  • We support the district’s initiatives to ensure every classroom always has certified teachers and substitutes.
  • We support the district’s efforts to clean our children’s drinking water after a long history of lead contamination.
  • We support the district’s efforts to ensure that all children start the day with a federally funded school breakfast. Last year, half the children in our district were in danger of starting the school day hungry. We were glad to see expanded breakfast programs last year and we expect to see more this year.
  • We would like to see the district’s central office reorganized, with additional hires shifted to schools.
  • We want Board meetings to start later, to accommodate working parents. We want them to be shorter and more efficient.
  • We support collective bargaining.

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

What was at stake?

There were four seats on the school board up for election on November 5, 2013. Incumbents Carol Lester and Angel Valentin filed to run against one another for the single at-large seat with an unexpired one-year term, while fellow incumbent Gerald Lyons competed against 11 challengers for three at-large seats with three-year terms. Incumbent Sterling Waterman did not file for re-election. Josephine Paige, Peter A. Basso and Jay Cordero initially announced runs for the three-year term seats, but all three withdrew from the race before November.[7]

Alleged board meeting incivility

During a candidate forum held on October 24, Ellen Simon criticized Lorenzo Richardson for comments he made during a school board meeting in July, 2012 shortly after the hiring of district superintendent Marcia V. Lyles. Richardson had denounced the controversial hiring decision and told the board, "My advice to all of you board members: Whoever has a gun to your head, let them pull the trigger. At least you will die with respect. OK? Cause if I was in that position, I’d tell them to pull the trigger." Simon argued that this was symbolic of the degree of incivility common at Jersey City school board meetings and that Richardson had spoken inappropriately. She added that, "This rhetoric has no place in a board of education. [...]And this kind of incivility is what has torn the board apart." Richardson defended his comments, insisting that he meant the board should ignore pressure from the New Jersey state government to hire Lyles, not that he meant they should commit suicide for their decision.[8]

About the district

See also: Jersey City Public Schools, New Jersey
Jersey City Public Schools is located in Hudson County, New Jersey
Jersey City Public Schools is located in Hudson County, New Jersey. The county seat of Hudson County is Jersey City. According to the 2010 US Census, Hudson County is home to 652,302 residents.[9]


Hudson County underperformed in comparison to the rest of New Jersey in terms of its median rates of average household income and poverty rate but outperformed the state average in higher education achievement in 2011. The median household income in Hudson County was $57,660 compared to $71,180 for the state of New Jersey. The poverty rate in Hudson County was 15.1% compared to 9.4% for the entire state. The US Census also found that 35.3% of Hudson County residents aged 25 years and older attained a Bachelor's degree compared to 35.0% in New Jersey.[9]

Racial Demographics, 2012[9]
Race Hudson County (%) New Jersey (%)
White 66.4 73.8
Black or African American 15.0 14.7
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.2 0.6
Asian 14.8 9.0
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.2 0.1
Two or More Races 2.4 1.9
Hispanic or Latino 42.6 18.5

Party Affiliation, 2013[10]
Party Hudson County Registered Voters  % of Total
Democratic 176,138 50.34
Republican 27,539 7.87
Libertarian 188 0.01
Green 96 0.01
Other 54 0.01
Unaffiliated 145,878 41.76

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 100.0%. Each column will add up to 100.0% after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages.[11]

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