Clark Dems Launch Full Slate in Write-In Campaign for Ward Seats

By KATIE MOEN
For Union County HAWK

CLARK — Though Clark Democrats only had one official horse in Tuesday’s council Primary race, four members of the party will be appearing on the ballot in November thanks to a series of successful write-in campaigns.

Michael Shulman, William Grzyb and David Hessler each secured the requisite number of votes to represent the party in Wards 2, 3 and 4, respectively, unofficial records provided by the township indicated on Tuesday. Dario Valdivia, who previously ran for mayor in 2016, had filed to run in the Primary as a Democrat for the Ward 1 council seat.

“It’s humbling to have so many people show their support,” Mr. Shulman, an attorney and vocal advocate for change within the community, said via communication with Union County Hawk on Wednesday morning. “We’re looking forward to even better things in November.”

According to information provided by Clark Township Clerk Edie Merkel, each candidate was required to secure at least 5 percent of the total number of Democratic votes cast during the last general election where members of the assembly were elected.

Since Clark’s four wards represent different voting demographics (Ward 2, according to data provided by the clerk’s office, typically sees the highest level of Democratic participation in the community, whereas Ward 4 is traditionally more of a Republican stronghold), each ward carried its own unique vote tally stipulations.

Though votes from mail-in ballots and early voting measures remained uncounted at the time of publication, the township’s early ballot metrics indicate that Mr. Shulman needed at least nine votes in Ward 2 (he got 12) while Mr. Grzyb needed six in Ward 3 and finished with at least 11. Mr. Hessler, who will be vying for the Ward 4 seat against Republican incumbent Brian Toal in November, earned at least six of his requisite five votes to secure his party’s nomination on Tuesday.

Three other Clark Republicans (incumbents Frank Mazzarella — Ward 1; Patrick O’Connor — Ward 2; and Steven Hund — Ward 3) ran unopposed in Tuesday’s Primary and will be appearing on the ballot in November.

Clark Democratic Chair Nancy Sheridan said Wednesday that Tuesday’s preliminary results point to “a hunger for change in Clark.”

“There has been a resurgence of interest in local politics ever since people learned about [Mayor Sal Bonaccorso’s] racist comments and the subsequent efforts to cover them up,” Ms. Sheridan said. “There has been so much secrecy from the council in recent months, and I think that has spurred a renewed interest in the local political process. I know people are hoping for more transparency going forward, regardless of which party they belong to.”

**This story was updated on June 9.

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