ROSELLE, NJ — Archange Antoine, a former local school board member who was dismissed for missing meetings and is facing formal ethics complaints with state authorities in unrelated incidents, is running for mayor.
Antoine, who was the longest-serving member of the Board of Education at the time he was removed by a 5-4 vote on Aug. 27 last year, announced his mayoral candidacy on his Facebook page Dec. 22. The mayoral primary is in June.
A photo of Antoine and his mother, Soeurette Antoine, holding a sign declaring “Archange Antoine for Mayor” accompanied a lengthy statement.
“We are a powerful community that come from a long legacy of leaders like Thomas Edison, who picked Roselle to be the first village in the world to be lit by a lightbulb; and, Abraham Clark, who lived in this community and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence,” the statement reads. “I’m asking you to believe. I’m asking for your support. And, I’m asking for your vote to be the next Mayor of the Borough of Roselle. Together we will build a stronger community, where we all will be more proud to call Roselle home.”
Antoine serves as executive director of Faith in New Jersey and as policy director for New Jersey Clergy Coalition for Justice, according to statements he made at the Aug. 27 BOE meeting.
Antoine addressed the BOE at its Jan. 3 reorganization meeting and said he wanted to “encourage all of you all to realize you all have a whole lot of different personalities up there. At the end of the day, never stop speaking to each other. That’s the most important thing you can do even when you disagree, just make sure you talk to each other.”
After the meeting, he told LocalSource that his mayoral candidacy is “a great opportunity for Roselle … I’m somebody who has been here for 24 years, raised by all my teachers, worked in town at the local Wendy’s, worked at Roselle Savings Bank. It’s an opportunity to create a vision for our community, to make sure we’re pushing on all ends to make sure Roselle is respected around the state of New Jersey and the families that are struggling to have a champion in this fight.”
When Antoine was removed from the BOE in August, approximately 20 members of the public spoke about his devotion to children, his community and his faith. Antoine appealed to the members of the board at that meeting, stating that he had good cause for missing five consecutive meetings in May and June.
After being removed, Antoine appealed to the courts to immediately rejoin the board, but Administrative Law Judge Margaret Monaco said state statutes give local school boards the power to remove members who miss three straight meetings of any kind, other than committee meetings.
Antoine’s attorney, Daniel Antonelli, said another hearing with Monaco is scheduled for May 14.
“We have additional counts in our petition seeking the relief to reinstate our client,” Antonelli said during a phone interview Nov. 30. “For example, we have a count (that) we believe he has provided good cause for the missed meetings. So, that will be an issue before the court. Obviously, we still have the issue we believe the fact that the board violated its own policy and instead relied upon the state statute. That’s still something that’s before the court as well.”
In an unrelated case, Antoine is also facing a formal complaint filed with the state School Ethics Commission for “threatening” former school board president Patricia Fabrizio and later calling her a “bigot” and “a little Trump” on social media.
According to a complaint filed by Fabrizio, former vice president Donna Eleazer and Richard Villeda, Antoine violated the Code of Ethics for school board members when he “stood up from his seat and screamed at (Fabrizio) and continued to yell over her explanation of the current Board proceedings” at the Aug. 16 meeting last year.
In another post Antoine allegedly made on board member Keyanna Jones’ Facebook page, alleged to have been directed toward Fabrizio, stated: “Exactly! Tell the truth and shame the devil. #UnhingedAndUnstable.”
Roselle Mayor Christine Dansereau, who also addressed the BOE at the Jan. 3 meeting, said she and Antoine have often been aligned on such causes as civil rights and both support the borough’s program that provides government-issued identification cards to city residents regardless of their immigration status.
“I’ve fought alongside him on issues of civil rights at a local level,” she told LocalSource after the meeting. “He apparently wants to serve. (He) has a right to do that, and may the best man or woman win.”