Voters to Decide Fate of Local Government Control



By JESSE WINTER
For Union County HAWK

AREA — With the General Election on Tuesday, November 2, New Jerseyans have the opportunity to make their voices heard and play a role in charting the state’s path forward by electing officials on the municipal, county and state levels of government. In some races, party control of local government will be decided by voters.

At the top of the ballot is the Governor’s race. Incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver are seeking another four-year term. They are running against Republican nominee and challenger Jack Ciattarelli of Hillsborough and Lieutenant Governor nominee Diane Allen. Also on the ballot are third-party candidates Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party from Budd Lake; Gregg Mele of the Libertarian Party from Bridgewater, and Joanne Kuniansky of the Socialist Workers Party out of West New York.

Along with the governor’s race, the entire New Jersey legislature is on the ballot, which consists of the 40-member State Senate and the 80-member General Assembly. Republicans will try to make inroads against the Democratic majorities in both houses, with Democrats expected to retain control.

Residents of the state’s 21st Legislative District will have the opportunity to choose between two State Senate candidates for one two-year term. Democrat Joseph Signorello, presently mayor of Roselle Park, is running against Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick of Westfield for the seat currently held by Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., who is not seeking reelection but instead is running for Congress.

Municipalities included in the 21st Legislative District are Cranford, Garwood, Mountainside and Westfield.

In the 22nd Legislative District, incumbent Democrat Nicholas Scutari of Linden is defending his seat against Republican candidate William Michelson of Plainfield for one two-year term.

Municipalities included in the 22nd Legislative District are Clark, Fanwood and Scotch Plains.

On the State Assembly front, the 21st Legislative District will see voters pick two candidates to serve a two-year term. The candidates are Democrats Elizabeth Graner of Basking Ridge and Anjali Mehrotra of Mountainside, along with Republicans Michele Matsikoudis of New Providence and Nancy Muñoz of Summit, the only incumbent.

In the 22nd Legislative District, the race for the two, two-year State Assembly seats features incumbent Democrats James Kennedy of Rahway and Linda Carter of Plainfield defending their seats against challenges from David Sypher of Rahway and Hans Herberg of Linden.

On the county level, voters will choose three candidates to elect to the Union County Board of County Commissioners for a three-year term each. Incumbent Commissioners Alexander Mirabella of Fanwood, board chairman, and Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded of Westfield, along with James Baker of Rahway, are the Democrats running for the three available seats. Democrats dominate the Board of County Commissioners 9 to 0. Republicans trying to win seats this year are Carmen Bucco of Kenilworth, Mary O’Connor of Cranford and Peter Lijoi of Summit.

Residents of Garwood are selecting two candidates to elect to their governing body, each for a three-year term. In another race that features no incumbents, Democratic candidates Jeffrey Jotz and Clarissa Nolde are competing with Republican candidates Heather Loffredo and Kimberly Salmon, but control of the governing body remains with Democrats regardless of the outcome.

In Scotch Plains, residents will choose between incumbent Democrat Matthew Adams and Republican challenger Deanna Dell-Bene for an unexpired term on the township council, but Democrats will still maintain majority control no matter the result.

In neighboring Westfield, a spirited race for mayor has Democratic incumbent Mayor Shelley Brindle squaring off against Republican challenger JoAnn Neylan for a four-year term.

Westfield also will feature races for its town council for each of its four wards. Each spot on the council dais is for a four-year term. In Ward 1, incumbent Democratic Councilwoman Linda Habgood is being challenged by Republican Amanda Como. Ward 2 sees incumbent Democratic Councilman Michael Dardia up against Republican challenger Denise Garrett. Ward 3 features incumbent Democratic Councilman David Contract facing off against Republican challenger Shawn Mullen. Ward 4 has incumbent Democratic Councilwoman Dawn Mackey defending her spot on the council against Republican challenger James Restivo.

Although Republicans dominated local politics in Westfield for many decades, in recent years the town has become very competitive, with Democratic candidates winning more votes than Republicans in races from President on down to town council. Republicans could take control by sweeping the races.

In Cranford, where Democrats also will retain control regardless of the local race tally, the battle for a single three-year term on the township committee features no incumbent. Democrat Kathleen Rappa and Republican Gina Black are contending for this year’s one available position on the township’s governing body.

Incumbents are running unopposed in the boroughs of Fanwood and Mountainside, and in both municipalities, the candidates’ party exclusively occupies all municipal elected positions. In Fanwood, Democrats Erin McElroy Barker and Patricia Walsh are each seeking another three-year council term, while in Mountainside Republicans Robert Messler and Rachel Pater also are vying for additional three-year terms on the borough council.

There are no municipal elections in 2021 in the Township of Clark.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. For information about early voting locations, visit unioncountyvotes.com.

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