Morgan, Loncto Cruise to Victory on Election Night

Anti-establishment candidate Jim Morgan defeated incumbent Bob Hutton for a one-year term while incumbent Vince Loncto overcame challenger Gina Damasco.

Voters on election night declined to give Ridgewood BOE member his wish to hammer out a new teacher contract, opting instead to elect opponent Jim Morgan to serve a one-year term on the Ridgewood Board of Education. Incumbent bested contender , winning a three-year seat by roughly 400 votes.

The newcomer and former president of the Ridgewood Education Foundation gained 1362 votes, edging out Hutton, who claimed 1135 in a hotly contested, sometimes contentious race.

A retired CFO, the high school neighbor campaigned largely opening up the board to greater transparency, a more "critical" look at budgets and a promise to ask the tough questions. Morgan , and fared well in his home turf, scoring 215 votes to Hutton's 104 in the RHS districts. He also won B.F.'s districts convincingly, with about 80 more votes than his opponent.

"I'm looking forward to it," Morgan said of serving a one-year term. "I'm looking forward to what I wanted to do for a long time, to bring openness and transparency to the board."

He continued: "We're servants of the people, representatives of the people. I'm looking forward to representing all elements of the community, not just the ones who voted for me – I want to reach out to the ones who didn't vote for me as well. The board members represent everybody in the village, not just one side."

His opponent, Hutton, a nine-year incumbent, ran a campaign largely centered around settling a new contract with teachers.

Neogiations with the Ridgewood Education Association (REA), which began 18 months ago, . The teachers rallied at a recent school board election, claiming the negotiating process has been "disrespectful" and not done in good faith. 

Hutton disagreed with the teachers' characterization but hasn't shied away from pointing out that salaries and benefits account for 55 percent of the budget. Given the restrictions in raising taxes above 2 percent annually, reaching an equitable agreement with teachers is crucial, he has stated.

Hutton left the before he could be reached for comment.

The other school board race, which pitted retired CFO Vince Loncto against education attorney Gina Damasco, drew much less public attention.

Loncto, who was after the sudden resignation of Charlie Reilly, campaigned by saying his background in finance would be an asset to the board and taxpayers. Voters apparently thought so too. With 1395 votes, Loncto was the highest vote-getter Tuesday night.

"I just want to thank my supporters and prove worthy of the trust they put in me to maintain the excellence of the Ridgewood schools," Loncto said, adding he was pleased the budget passed.

The retired CFO in interviews and at candidate forums frequently cited statistics he says can lead to no other conclusion than Ridgewood schools being top notch.

But, he added, efforts need to be taken to bring the taxes down without adversely impacting students' educational opportunities. Loncto also expressed hope a director of technology could be hired to help quarterback efforts to advance the district's tech savvy.

Damasco, an RHS graduate employed as an attorney at the Department of Education (DOE), had hoped her skill set would catapult her to victory. The attorney has spent time analyzing construction contracts, teacher contracts, worked in mediation and has professional experience with special education matters.

"I'm actually really grateful 952 people voted for me, which is amazing," Damasco said Tuesday night. "I really wasn't known, I wasn't an incumbent and I'm amazed and grateful for that [level of voter turnout]. I looked at this as an opportunity to just volunteer."

[Editor's note: When absentee ballots were factored in later, Damasco was found to have received 984 votes.]

Loncto and Morgan will be sworn in when the school board reorganizes on Monday, April 23. The board will determine committees – including who will presumably join Sheila Brogan to negotiate the teacher contract – at the reorganization meeting.

The by roughly 400 votes.

This article was last updated at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday to include the most recent vote tallies.

Boyd A. Loving April 18, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Congratulations Jim Morgan and best wishes to you in your new role. I'm very much looking forward to a more open and transparent BOE; good luck in your efforts to bring about this much needed change. And thank you Mr. Hutton for your nine (9) years of service to our community. Best of luck to you in your new endeavors.
News Man April 18, 2012 at 05:18 AM
Great election this year ... good luck to all. More to come.
CPA April 18, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Congratulations Jim on your well deserved victory. Vince better step up his game because his first four months were pitiful. Gina was a better candidate and would have provided the people of Ridgewood a better option against wasteful contractual liabilities that the BOE has already got us into. Looking forward to the Town Council elections.
CPA April 18, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Oh yeah...bye, bye Bob!
Ridgewood Voter April 18, 2012 at 02:04 PM
CPA - did you run for a spot on the BOE? Have you served publicly? I completely agree that the voters voted and chose Mr. Morgan, but how about a thank you to Bob Hutton. He did serve a VOLUNTEER position for 9 years. I have a lot more respect for Bob Hutton and the other candidates for putting their name and views out in the public eye. How about a simple thank you.
Bob Hutton April 18, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Boyd -- thanks for expressing your thank you. I am very proud of the nine years of service. More importantly, thank you for placing your name in your posting. It is a shame that is not a requirement.
CPA April 18, 2012 at 04:28 PM
To Bob Hutton, I personally want to thank you for all you have done for Ridgewood. I understand you did your best for the nine years you served as a BOE member. If I offended you in anyway I am personally sorry. Respectfully, CPA
CPA April 18, 2012 at 04:43 PM
To Ridgewood Voter, Thank you too for pointing out that Bob was a volunteer for 9 years. No I didn't run for the BOE because I want the BA's job. When I go into board meetings at least I can provide commentary on each line of my financial statements and know exactly what they represent. "i'll have to get back to you on that", would never be a phrase that is released from my lips. I know how to negotiate contracts as well. Have a nice day! Respectfully, CPA
Paul April 18, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Congratulations Mr. Jim Morgan, YOU THE MAN! Dot & I are very happy for you and Sue. Thank you Mr. Bob Hutton for all of your years of Volunteer work! We wish only the Best of everything to you and your family.New year, New BOE.
Resident April 18, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Who are you? You bad mouth Mr. Hutton constantly and now you are thanking him? How can you 'personally' thank him - what person? Mr Hutton ran an HONEST and forth right campaign. His opponent did not. He will be sorely missed. And the teachers need to get a grip on life. They deserve zero percent for more than only one year.
Paul April 19, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Congratulations Mr. Jim Morgan YOU THE MAN!! And Thank you Mr. Bob Hutton for all of your years of volunteer work!! We wish you and your family the best of everything!!
Ellen Simpson April 19, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Thanks to all who have served and will serve our schools--it's a difficult and often thankless job. I completely agree with Bob Hutton on using real names--sometimes it's too easy to make flippant and hurtful remarks when no one knows who you are. It takes courage to express ones views and put yourself out there in public--mistakes and all. When you use your real name, I find you carefully choose your battles and your words.
CPA April 19, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Resident what needs to happen is that the BS that comes out of Cottage Place needs to stop. The financial mismanagement by the BA is incredible and anyone who has an ounce of accounting knowledge can see right through that mans presentations. You are chasing the wrong tail there my friend.
CPA April 19, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I had to re-read your post and I got the biggest chuckle out of your response. So you blame the teachers for the BOE's inability to negotiate responsible contracts? You blame the teachers for the BA's inability to make sound financial decisions on behalf of the taxpayers? Granted I believe that the teachers should be dealt with equitably but not at the expense of incompetence from soneone who you are placing on a pedestal. Accountability and transparency is the better approach to skin this cat. The man that has the FIDUCIARY responsibility to the taxpayers of this town has presented the public with misleading data. As I have stated before anytime this man says "I'll have to get back to you on that" the people at the meetings should say "NO" we want the answers now. If you can't supply us with the answers now it is documented and he is eventually released from his responsibilities. I am tired of the waste of Macs, to Dells, to Ipads with out accountability. He is your new IT Director after the last set of layoffs two years ago. He can't even use Outlook for God's sake. I am anxiously awaiting the next BOE meeting.
CPA April 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM
"Shut down your email Angelo..."
Ridgewood Voters April 24, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Why don't we all watch or read what Mr. Hutton said tonight (4/23) at the BOE meeting. He received a letter from a REA high ranking official with a threat to their youngest son after their eldest son spoke out against the REA and teacher negotiations back in 2002. No wonder no parents speak out against the teachers because they don't want to get a threat from the teachers against their children. Bob Hutton - don't ever listen to CPA. I would love for CPA to show is face! He probably just sits at his computer and does nothing with his life. Stand up and tell me if you have ever been a top executive or on a board and never have said, I will get back to you. You know why - because NO ONE wants you on a board cause you probably cannot read a spreadsheet or balance sheet.
Ridgewood Voters April 24, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Please name what is wrong with a financial management from Cottage Place? SPECIFICS!!!! Teachers are over paid - that is the fact. Last time I checked, students from RHS still go to the top colleges in the country, get plenty of scholarships, and dominate in college! Just stop talking!
Joe April 24, 2012 at 02:20 AM
New year, new BOE...new neighbors on Irving St? Let us hope so! I predict your buddy Jim Morgan will disappoint you with his actions on the Board. Mark my words.
CPA April 24, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Please refer to the tabling of the approval of the auditors which was a decision made last evening. Weren't you there for that???? Clown.
CPA April 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM
My certifications, education and professional experience match up against anyone on the BOE. I can even use Macs, Dells and Ipads too. I shouldn't bring up financial mismanagement, my apologies. Let's blame the teachers for that. Clown.
CPA April 24, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Paul, Jim Morgan is right on spot. McKinley, White & CO sold to Smolin in January 2012 so calling for the tabling of the auditors is huge.
CPA April 24, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It seems as if the outside auditors for the Ridgewood BOE have sold their business as of January 16, 2012. When was the transition period between audit firms going to begin?


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