Recent high school graduate upsets incumbent in New Jersey school board election

Last week, as part of a string of upsets across New Jersey school board races, 19-year-old Nicholas Seppy ousted incumbent Terre Alabarda in Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County. Seppy, a lifelong resident of the town and recent high school graduate, won just over 58% of the votes and denied Terre Alabarda’s reelection bid. His victory is one in a long line of others opposing ongoing Covid mandates and shutdowns, as well as supporting parent involvement in schools. After his victory, Seppy told The Lion he was eager to get to work.

Seppy was no stranger to the negative effects of the shutdowns, which compromised 75% of his senior year of high school. In his campaign, he spoke against the hybrid approach that many schools were taking, citing his own experience. Egg Harbor, in particular, had mostly online learning, with students broken up into two groups alternating in-person attendance two times a week. 

“It was awful,” Seppy said. “Hybrid education was not yielding the enthusiasm in students they thought it would… With younger students, they ended up missing out on an entire year of education.” 

Seppy also promised to “give parents a voice in the district,” which struck a chord among voters. “Parents were not being listened to,” he said. His experience as a student liaison during high school gave him a unique perspective on what parents want, while simultaneously remaining in-touch with the concerns of students. Seppy attended Egg Harbor schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

When Seppy spoke with The Lion, he said one of his first goals as a board member is to create a greater emphasis on skilled trades in the school. He says he sees a “drought” in trades and vocational training with no new tradesmen coming up. Industry insiders estimate that the recession has cost around one million skilled workers that have yet to be replaced. As older workers retire, the number gets worse. 

Seppy also wants to create better ways for students to become active citizens, including through an increased focus on civics. This is particularly important as civics education has been on a steady decline in public school systems for years.

Seppy made it a priority to run a positive campaign that did not focus on his opponent. His campaign profile tagline reads, “Uniting the interests of parent, student, and the taxpayer.” He says his goal has always been to serve the public, with an emphasis on learning how to listen attentively to their concerns.

Seppy’s campaign page featured a victory message last week that read, “A great big thank you to all those who have supported me in my campaign for EHT Board of Education. I am happy to say that through your votes, you have made this a success. Your faith in me will enable my perspective to be heard in matters important to our community. It’s time to represent the parent, student, and taxpayer of Egg Harbor Township! God Bless America.”