SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — After nearly a month of waiting with bated breath, Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin has certified the county’s results from the Nov. 6 election. In addition to answers about how each town voted in myriad elections, there is now a final answer as to who won the very close Board of Education election. Javier Farfan narrowly beat out Narda Chisholm-Greene to snag the third open seat on the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education, joining winners Annemarie Maini and Shannon Cuttle.
According to Durkin’s certified results, voter turnout was middling; however, Durkin has previously told the News-Record that voter registration numbers are not wholly accurate as names are not removed from the registry unless requested, meaning if someone moves away, they are still listed as a registered voter. Essex County saw a voter turnout of 50.75 percent. Maplewood had a voter turnout of 62.84 percent and South Orange had a voter turnout of 63.02 percent.
In the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education election, Cuttle was the top vote getter, with 7,108 votes, or 17.2 percent, and Maini, the only incumbent running, came in a close second with 7,085 votes, which also rounds to 17.2 percent. Until the results were certified by Durkin, it was unclear who would be taking the third open seat on the BOE; now, however, the numbers show that Farfan will take that third seat, as he received 5,818 votes, or 14.1 percent.
“It feels like a blessing and I’m very honored the people of SOMA believed in me the way I believe in this community,” Farfan told the News-Record. “I want to say thank you for believing in the message and now it is my duty to help bring on the most qualified superintendent that can really help move our schools forward — with diversity in mind. That is something I take seriously and will try my best to fulfill for the community.”
Farfan is eager to begin his work on the BOE to improve the district’s education for all students.
“I am looking forward to removing the challenges that our district faces so we can transform our school district to the model district of the state,” Farfan said. “I will focus on hiring great leadership, providing our children with new infrastructure and setting policies that will focus on diversity, equity and access for all children.”
After the three winning candidates, Chisholm-Greene received 5,656 votes, or 13.7 percent; Michael Laskowski received 5,140 votes, or 12.5 percent; Bruno Navarro received 2,833 votes, or 6.9 percent; Marian Cutler received 2,713 votes, or 6.6 percent; and Christopher Trzaska received 1,888 votes, or 4.6 percent.
Additionally, three former candidates, who were no longer running, received votes. Felisha George received 1,637 votes, or 4 percent; Avery Julien received 911 votes, or 2.2 percent; and James Wilkes received 354 votes, or 0.9 percent. There were 98 write-in votes.
Interestingly, in Maplewood, the order of vote getters from highest to lowest was the same as the districtwide tallies, except Chisholm-Greene received more votes than Farfan, taking the No. 3 spot. And in South Orange, the order was mostly the same, though Maini took the No. 1 spot with Cuttle in the No. 2 spot, and Cutler was ahead of Navarro.
As expected by many, the two Democratic incumbents to the Maplewood Township Committee won re-election. Nancy Adams received 9,857 votes, or 47.6 percent, and Greg Lembrich received 9,587 votes, or 46.3 percent. Independent candidate Ileana Castillo earned 1,203 votes, or 5.8 percent. There were 51 write-in votes.
Statewide, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, won re-election to U.S. Senate for his third term with approximately 54 percent of the vote, beating out Republican opponent Bob Hugin, who garnered approximately 43 percent of the vote. The other six candidates each received fewer than 2 percent of the vote. In Essex County, Menendez took 76.5 percent of the county’s votes, while Hugin took only 21 percent. While most of the larger municipalities in Essex County went to Menendez, Hugin earned the most votes in Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, Roseland and West Caldwell.
Unsurprisingly, Menendez received a heavy majority of votes in Maplewood and South Orange. In Maplewood, Menendez received 87.4 percent of the votes and Hugin received only 10.6 percent. In South Orange, Menendez garnered 86.4 percent of the votes while Hugin garnered only 11.5 percent.
U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. was re-elected to represent the 10th Congressional District, which represents parts of Essex, Hudson and Union counties. Payne has held his seat since 2012, when he was elected to complete his father’s incomplete term. In Essex County, the 10th District encompasses all of East Orange, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Maplewood, Orange and South Orange, and parts of Bloomfield, Montclair, Newark and West Orange. Throughout the district, on Nov. 6, Payne, a Democrat, received approximately 87.5 percent of the votes, while Republican Agha Khan received approximately 10 percent; the three other candidates each received fewer than 2 percent of the vote.
In Essex County, Payne received 92.4 percent of the votes and Khan received just 5.8 percent. In Maplewood, Payne received 89.8 percent of the votes and Khan received just 8.5 percent. In South Orange, Payne garnered 89.2 percent and Khan garnered 8.9 percent.
In the county elections, incumbent Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. handily won re-election as county executive. A Democrat, he won 81 percent of the votes, while Republican John Chiaia received 16.3 percent and Independent John Jay Arena received 2.6 percent.
Sheriff Armando Fontoura, a Democrat, won re-election with 81.8 percent of the votes and Republican Pasquale Capozzoli received 18.2 percent. For county surrogate, Democratic challenger Alturrick Kenney won with 80 percent and Republican challenger John Anello received 19.9 percent.
In the uncontested election for District 3 of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Tyshammie Cooper received 99.8 percent of the votes. South Orange is part of District 3.
In a statewide public question on the ballots, voters were able to decide on the School Projects Bond. Approximately 52 percent of state voters supported issuing $500 million in general obligation bonds for project grants related to vocational schools, college career or technical education, school water infrastructure and school security, while approximately 48 percent did not support it.
In Essex County, 68.5 percent of voters supported the School Projects Bond. In Maplewood, 68.8 percent supported it and, in South Orange, 67.6 percent supported it.