By MADDY VITALE
When the Ocean City Board of Education couldn’t break a tie vote Jan. 4 for who would be second in command as vice president, the matter went to the county for review.
The school board deadlocked with a 6-6 vote when it came to deciding who would become the new vice president, Cecilia Gallelli-Keyes or Upper Township representative Fran Newman.
After four votes, at the advice of school board solicitor Michael Stanton, to see if there could be a tie breaker, the vote remained at 6-6 on who would succeed board member Joe Clark as vice president. The matter went up to Cape May County superintendent’s office for review.
On Wednesday, school officials announced that Interim Executive County Superintendent Dr. Judith DeStefano appointed Clark to become the vice president for 2023.
“I was honored to be appointed by Dr. DeStefano. I had planned to work with Chris closely and this puts me in more of an official capacity to do that,” Clark said of collaborating with the school board’s newly appointed president, Chris Halliday.
DeStefano reviewed the resumes of the candidates and interviewed them to determine who she thought would be best suited for the post.
Halliday said of the appointment, “I appreciate the Executive County Superintendent’s work with our district and look forward to serving with Mr. Clark as vice president.”
Clark was first elected as a member of the Ocean City Board of Education in April 2008. He previously served as president of the school board from January 2014 through December 2021 and as vice president in 2022.
Clark said of his years on the board, “I want to leave the board better than I found it. I want to believe that we have made a difference. I think we have made inroads with our unions. I think we really broke down some barriers over the years and have good conversations for their membership and the taxpayers and the district.”
During the Jan. 4 reorganization meeting, the vote for Halliday was 9-3 for the top post. Then came time to vote for vice president, which resulted in a 6-6 tie each time for Gallelli-Keyes and Newman.
In separate interviews Wednesday night, Gallelli-Keyes and Newman each congratulated Clark on his appointment, saying he has the experience for the leadership post.
“We are all professionally qualified to be the vice president. I just feel Ocean City, our schools, our land, our community, and our buildings,” Gallelli-Keyes said. “I believe our leadership position should stay in the control of our town for the taxpayers. Joe will do a fine job. I am just happy it is staying in Ocean City leadership.”
Newman said she has “full confidence that Joe will do an excellent job.”
“Joe has done a great job and will continue to do so,” Newman said. “I am disappointed, though, that with my over 25 years of experience as a board member in Upper Township, and my many years on the Ocean City school board, that I was not selected. But I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to serve the citizens of Upper Township.”
Gallelli-Keyes and Newman each received six votes. Both Gallelli-Keyes and Newman voted for themselves during the Jan. 4 meeting.
In addition, Jacqueline McAlister, Liz Nicoletti, Catherine Panico, Robin Shaffer and Disston Vanderslice also cast votes for Gallelli-Keyes to be vice president.
Newman got the nod from Clark, Halliday, Kevin Barnes, Bill Holmes and Kristie Chisholm.
The next school meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. in the Ocean City High School media room. For more information about Ocean City schools visit oceancityschools.org.