Robin Cervantes, of Tally Ho Drive, won a seat on the district's school board by taking a little more than 20 percent -- or 2,238 votes -- of the ballots cast in Wednesday's election.
Cervantes, who was in her kitchen with running-mate Anne Moonan when she heard the results, said she was thrilled to have been elected.
"I was in my kitchen, looking at an iPad and kept hitting the refresh button until all the results came through," she said. "I feel so thrilled."
But even better, she said, was that the school budget had passed.
"We were blown away when we saw that the budget passed and both questions went. We were speechless when we saw that, because that is what it's all about. It's about passing the budget, it's about bringing our school system in touch with our community," Cervantes said.
Although Cervantes and the rest of her ticket, Moonan and John Tavis, won in a landslide, she said the truly important thing was the message from the voters.
"It's not about the numbers, but I'm just so humbled by the amount of people that went out in support of us," she said. "It really was the wind in our sails."
Cervantes said she hoped the passing of this year's budget would become the rule and not the exception.
"I just want to see this become a trend going forward; passing budgets and getting our community on board with our school system," she said. "That's my hope and my prayer, and I really think that we can do it."
After the reorginzation meeting, where the board selects its leaders, the meeting schedule and the committees, Cervantes said she wants to get right to work.
"It was such a scary thing to think if this (budget) went down, what was going to be cut. The uncertainty was so scary, it kept me up at night," she said. "Knowing we can come into this with a passed budget is a great thing."
Echoing the message from her ticket's campaign, Cervantes said she wants to make the board more accessible to the township's residents.
"We want people to talk to us. Let us know what is on your mind," she said. "And we're going to listen. Just because we won doesn't mean we're going to stop listening to you,"she said.
Now that the budget is passed, the custodian jobs are saved and West Belmar school is no longer in danger of closing, Cervantes said the next big issue is selecting the district's next superintendent.
"That is something this board is going to hit the ground running on," she said. "It's my intention, and I'm sure the rest of my ticket's, to involve the community with what qualities they want to see in our next superintendent."