It went off the rails yesterday, that shaky relationship between powerful state senator Ray Lesniak (D-20) and a newcomer board member turned board president, with Trojan horse talk abounding in the vicinity of Ana Maria Amin.
The trail is tough now for Amin, who last week defied the school board team she ran with to win the board presidency with votes culled from her team’s political enemies, leaving Lesniak with his mouth hanging in School 51 and the would-be defeated allies of Rafael Fajardo high-fiving out of their political coffins.
Amin landed on the Lesniak Team on the advice of Lesniak ally George Casto, who now, sources say, has his head in his hands.
“They duped him,” a source close to the action told PolitickerNJ.
Yesterday, Amin doubled down on her distance from the Lesniak team, which had hoped with two victories in last year’s school board race to assume control of the powerful governing body dictating school policy in the Union County seat.
“I have seen the plotting that has taken place, which can only negatively impact our Elizabeth Public Schools and any of the valuable things it is doing to educate our children,” Amin wrote in a letter to Lesniak. “My personal belief is that your team has lost its way and is now dangerously off course. The agenda has become increasingly mean-spirited and focused on political retribution. The people you are supporting are not focused on an education agenda that is best for the children of Elizabeth. Their agenda has become a political one, focused on dismantling the leadership of the district in a crass move to take control as quickly as possible.
“I will not be part of a plot to ensure that this political hit list is executed,” she added.The letter reinforced Amin now within the fold of Fajardo’s team, who, in losing last year’s election 1-2 to Lesniak’s team, appeared on their way out of power.But Fajardo, one of the victim’s on election day, remained on the board with the retirement from the board of his friend, Tony Monterio, then led the voting for Amin as board president, much to the chagrin of Amin’s fast former friends.
“It’s difficult to respond to something like that when my team – so to speak – have an unblemished record and the Fajardo team is rife with arrests, indictments and guilty pleas,” Lesniak told PolitickerNJ. “I have no idea where she’s going with that.”
The senator, as his friend Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage told PolitickerNJ earlier this week, that Fajardo won’t survive a legal challenge to his move to remain on the school board.
“In that legal case on Friday i expect the judge will determine that the board’s legal advice was totally false and that that vote will be overturned,” the senator said.
For her part, Amin resisted what she said were Castro’s efforts to get her to resign the board presidency.
In her letter to Lesniak, she wrote, “Senator, I also have a personal request. As you most definietly know, I am a good friend of George Castro – an individual who has supported me along the way. …He has been asked to pressure me and it is starting to take its toll on my friendship. I was elected by the majority of the people and therefore prepared to vote my conscience on all initiatives. I would appreciate your help in putting this coordinated effort to influence my vote or to resign my position to a complete stop.”