While township residents voted to fill two of three expiring Board of Education positions on Nov. 5, the winner of the final seat still remains in question.
Six candidates ran to serve in one of the three positions up for grabs on the board, including incumbents William Cytowicz and Steven C. Drew.
Both were rebuked in the polling, leaving all four challengers Michael Conklin Jr., Cortney Stephenson, Jaycen M. Stillman, and Robert (Bob) J. Woodier Jr. in the race.
According to the "unofficial results" posted on the Passaic County Elections page late in the evening of Nov. 5, Stillman and Conklin were the clear winners for the first two seats.
The most votes, according to unofficial tallies, went to Stillman with 2,003 votes, followed by Conklin with 1,757 votes.
The results, however, remain too close to determine the winner of the third seat, with only four votes separating the two candidates.
Candidates Woodier and Stephenson received 1,624 and 1,620 votes, respectively.
The unofficial results do not include absentee or provisional ballots, meaning the race may not be finalized for weeks while those final ballots are tallied.
Incumbents fell short of enough votes to retain their seats for another term.
Cytowicz received 1,489 votes, and Drew collected 1,439 votes.
Cytowicz posted a statement on several Facebook local community group pages the night of the election.
"Thank you to all who came out to support Steve Drew and Will Cytowicz," the posts said. "We did not win. Congratulations to Jay Stillman, Mike Conklin, and Bob Woodier. Best of luck."
Both Stillman and Conklin thanked voters for placing them on the board.
"Thank you to the entire West Milford community for putting your trust in me," Stillman, who won the most votes in the election, said. "I will work hard collaboratively with the other board members for West Milford’s education to flourish, and create an atmosphere of respect within our education community. I would like to thank my family, especially my wife Jennifer and our children, for their support, encouragement and belief."
Conklin also expressed his gratitude to voters.
"Thank you West Milford for supporting me in this new endeavor," he said. "I’m looking forward to working with all the board members for the betterment of the children and the school system of West Milford."
With the race still ongoing for the third and final position on the school board, candidate Woodier, currently in third place, said the district will do well no matter the outcome.
"Congratulations to Jaycen and Michael. (It is) well deserved," he said. "Regardless of the outcome for the third spot it is clear that the district is going to be getting someone with a vested interest and fresh ideas for our children in Cortney Stephenson or me."
In light of the narrow margin between third and fourth place, Stephenson said she still hoped to pull out the victory.
"Currently, I am losing the BOE seat by four votes," she said. "As a mom of three (kids), and an educator for 17 years, I’m hopeful that West Milford voters see the value in my attributes."
She said the school system faces many challenges ahead, and having an individual who is well versed in public education would benefit the system.
"I am honored to have run for the West Milford BOE when such great candidates were on the ballot," she said.
Both candidates said they realize it could take some time for the third seat to be decided, and it's not likely either would ask for a recount.
"I would not ask for a recount. Rob Woodier will be fantastic as a Board of Ed member," Stephenson said.
"I would echo Cortney's statement," he said. "I would not request a recount as she would be great for the district."
Once results are finalized, the three new trustees will take their official oaths for the three-year positions at the BOE's reorganization meeting in January.
"Regardless of the outcome for the third spot it is clear that the district is going to be getting someone with a vested interest and fresh ideas for our children in Cortney Stephenson or me." - BOE Candidate Robert Woodier Jr.