The Jersey Journal:

Billionaire Ronald Lauder will spend big to oust embattled Jersey City BOE member, org says

News | ASAP In The News
December 19, 2019
By Patrick Villanova

An heir to the Estée Lauder empire wants Joan Terrell-Paige off the Jersey City Board of Education, and he’s willing to spend to make it happen.

Billionaire Ronald Lauder, founder of the Anti-Semitism Accountability Project, said Terrell-Paige’s recent controversial commentary on Jersey City’s Jewish community fans “the flames of hate.”

The organization indicated it is prepared to spend serious money to unseat Terrell-Paige if she runs for reelection next year. Her term runs through Dec. 31, 2020.

“ASAP will deploy the resources necessary to make sure voters know about Ms. Terrell’s hateful, anti-Semitic rhetoric and will do whatever is necessary to see that she steps down,” Lauder said in a statement.

Terrell-Paige has come under intense public scrutiny after referring to the “brutes of the Jewish community” in a Facebook post in the wake of last week’s deadly attack on a kosher supermarket in Jersey City. Two members of the city’s growing Hasidic community, a store employee, and a police detective were killed in violence, which authorities are investigating as an act of domestic terrorism.

Lauder, 75, whose net worth according to Forbes is $4.3 billion, also serves as president of the World Jewish Congress.

But not everyone supports the idea of a billionaire injecting money into a BOE election.

Jersey City Councilman James Solomon said Lauder’s commitment to fight anti-Semitism is genuine, but letting Jersey City leaders sort out underlying issues in the community is best.

“I think folks from outside Jersey City however well-intentioned they maybe should step back and let Jersey City move forward in the appropriate way. I made my statement and made it clear I believe she should resign. But, I think Jersey City takes quite seriously issues of anti-Semitism and other forms of hate and we are going to work through them.”

The city’s BOE election in November was the most expensive school board race in state history. Nearly $600,000 was spent on the campaign, including $312,000 by a super PAC connected to real estate developer LeFrak.

State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who represents a portion of Jersey City, said Lauder should save his money.

“I don’t think we need any extraordinary expenditure for our community to reject that kind of intolerance, that kind of ignorance,” Mukherji said. “She should quit and if she doesn’t, I don’t think she has a future in elected office. Not in this city.”