SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The New Jersey gubernatorial election went as had been expected, but elections at the local level did offer some surprises in Essex County. A few weeks after the election, Essex County Clerk Christopher J. Durkin certified the results, making official the winners reported in the News-Record/West Orange Chronicle.
In addition to the winners, Durkin released the data on the percentage of voters who turned out to vote and how each district voted Nov. 7.
Democrat Mayor Vic DeLuca reclaimed his seat on the Maplewood Township Committee and Democrat Dean Dafis was elected, filling the seat previously held by Committeewoman India Larrier, who opted not to run for re-election. For the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education, incumbent Elizabeth Baker was re-elected, along with challengers Anthony Mazzocchi and Robin Johnson Baker; incumbent Donna Smith lost her bid for re-election and board member Maureen Jones opted not to run for re-election.
According to the certified results, 8,414 Maplewood residents cast ballots, although 18,523 were registered to vote; this makes a voter turnout of 45.42 percent. However, these numbers can be misleading because when residents move away or die, they are not automatically taken off the voting registry. According to the 2010 Census, Maplewood had 17,109 residents older than 18, though this does not denote which were registered to vote; were all of these residents registered to vote, which is highly unlikely, Maplewood’s voter turnout improves to 49.18 percent.
In South Orange, 5,790 residents cast ballots, although 12,502 were registered to vote, for a voter turnout of 46.31 percent. According to the 2010 Census, South Orange had 12,483 residents older than 18; were all of these residents registered to vote, South Orange’s voter turnout improves almost imperceptibly to 46.38 percent.
Maplewood is divided into 21 voting districts and South Orange is divided into 12. In Maplewood, District 15 had the highest voter turnout with 55.39 percent, while District 13 had the lowest with 30.13 percent. In South Orange, District 10 had the highest voter turnout with 52.53 percent, while District 9 had the lowest with 33.63 percent.
In the Maplewood Township Committee election, including mail-in and provisional ballots, DeLuca garnered the most votes with a total of 6,434 and Dafis came in second with 6,029 votes. Republican candidate Mike Summersgill did not win a seat on the committee, receiving only 1,474 votes.
There were 19 write-in votes for the Maplewood Township Committee. Write-ins included four for Charles M. Townsend, two for former DPW Director Eric Burbank, and one each for: Evqueniy Vitcher, former Committeeman and Mayor Jerry Ryan, municipal prosecutor and director of community development and relations Annette DePalma, Meghan O’Brien, Seth Levy, Vikram Gokuldas, Stephen Mershon, Michael Rubenstein and Vic DeLuca, who was already on the ballot.
In the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education election, including mail-in ballots and provisional ballots, Elizabeth Baker received the most votes with a total of 5,869; Mazzocchi came in second with 5,564; and Robin Baker came in third with 5,082. Of the five other candidates not elected, Smith came in fourth with 3,559; Shannon Cuttle came in fifth with 3,185; Sheila Shidnia came in sixth with 1,548; Avery Julien came in seventh with 1,424, and Felisha George came in eighth with 1,199. Lucas Calhoun, who had dropped out of the race earlier in the campaign season but who still appeared on the ballot, received 853 votes.
South Orange and Maplewood’s votes for the BOE candidates fell out mostly the same, except Maplewood preferred Cuttle to Smith, placing her fourth, while South Orange votes put Smith in fourth place and Cuttle in fifth.
There were 47 write-in votes for the SOMA Board of Education, 24 from Maplewood and 23 from South Orange. Maplewood write-ins included: two for Wilber Vargas and one apiece for Alex Steinberg, Jesse Jean-Philippe, Evqueniy Vitcher, Steven Eisen, Kristin Harris, Lloyd Bharatt, Henry Willshire, Randy Van Doornik and Mitch Center. Additionally, there was one write-in vote for “Lucas Calhune,” who was already on the ballot with his name’s proper spelling, despite the fact that he was no longer running.
South Orange write-ins included: one each for Phillip White, Phyllis Doerr, Richard Wasserman, Richard Lomuscio, John Sullivan, Pat Tynan, beloved actor John Amos, Sherrie Mannion, Donald Cataldo, Brian Cash, Martin Bearg, Charles Onyeani, Leonard Wood, Lori Dalvi, Sean Doherty and Susie Adamson, who ran unsuccessfully for the board last year. Write-ins on mail-in ballots included one for Township Committee candidate Summersgill, former BOE member Wayne Eastman and “None of the Above.”
Additionally, some Maplewood write-ins for other offices included DeLuca for governor and DeLuca for state Senate. Some South Orange write-ins included state Sen. Richard Codey for governor and state Senate President Steve Sweeney for governor, as well as South Orange President Sheena Collum for freeholder. South Orange write-ins also included “neither” for the state Senate election for the 27th Legislative District; “none of the above” for freeholder at large; and former South Orange Board of Trustees member Nancy Gould and longtime village resident Douglas Bergmann for freeholder representing the 3rd District.