SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin has released the certified the November election results for most of the county. The sole election in the county not certified as of press time was the Board of Education in Bloomfield, where a tie triggered a recount.
According to the certified results, voter turnout was poor; however, Durkin previously told the News-Record that voter registration numbers are not wholly accurate as names are not removed from the registry unless requested. Therefore, if someone moves away, they are still listed as a registered voter. Essex County saw a voter turnout of 23.08 percent. Maplewood had a voter turnout of 25.42 percent and South Orange had a voter turnout of 25.94 percent.
The South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education election was heated, with seven candidates running for just three open seats. The winners are challengers Erin Siders and Thair Joshua, who ran a joint campaign, and incumbent Johanna Wright. Districtwide, with 8,614 ballots cast, in descending order, Siders received 4,273 votes, Joshua received 2,964, Wright received 3,760, incumbent Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad received 2,891, challenger Sharon Tanenbaum Kraus received 2,321, challenger Narda Chisholm-Greene received 2,193 and challenger Carey Smith received 1,173 votes; there were 61 write-in votes.
In Maplewood, the candidate ranking by votes was nearly the same as districtwide; the sole difference was that Tanenbaum Kraus and Chisholm-Greene switched spots. In Maplewood, with 5,096 ballots cast, in descending order, Siders received 2,677 votes, Joshua received 2,428 votes, Wright received 2,108, Lawson-Muhammad received 1,745, Chisholm-Greene received 1,348, Tanenbaum Kraus received 1,303 and Smith received 599 votes; there were 42 write-in votes.
In South Orange, the candidate ranking by votes was also nearly the same as districtwide; the sole difference was that Wright jumped from the No. 3 spot to the No. 1 spot. In South Orange, with 5,096 ballots cast, in descending order, Wright received 1,652 votes, Siders received 1,596, Joshua received 1,536, Lawson-Muhammad received 1,146, Tanenbaum Kraus received 1,018, Chisholm-Greene received 845 and Smith received 574 votes; there were 19 write-in votes.
Among the BOE write-in votes, two Maplewood residents voted for former Maplewood Democratic Committee Chairman Ian Grodman. Other notables written in for one vote apiece by Maplewood voters were former BOE candidate Chris Trzaska and deceased actor Jack Klugman. In South Orange, one resident wrote in former district communications director Suzanne Turner and another wrote in former Maplewood Township Committee candidate Ileana Castillo.
Unsurprisingly, Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee retook his Maplewood Township Committee seat for a second term. McGehee, a Democrat, was running unopposed. Of the 5,096 ballots cast, McGehee received 4,190 votes and there were 66 write-in votes.
Among the Township Committee write-in votes, 20 Maplewood residents voted for Dave Garaban, who is involved with local youth sports, to fill the open committee seat, while former Committeeman and Mayor Jerry Ryan received three write-in votes and former committee candidate Ileana Castillo received two write-in votes. Other notables written in for one vote apiece were local journalist Joe Strupp, former Maplewood Democratic Committee Chairman Ian Grodman and former Republican candidate Mike Summersgill.
In the 27th Legislative District, incumbent Democrats John McKeon and Mila Jasey won re-election by landslides. Districtwide, which includes parts of Essex and Morris counties, McKeon and Jasey each took approximately 32 percent of the vote, while Republican challengers Michael Dailey and Mauro Tucci each took approximately 18 percent. In Essex County, of 28,368 ballots cast, McKeon received 20,178 votes and Jasey received 19,586, while Dailey received only 6,096 votes and Tucci received 6,110; there were 41 write-in votes.
In Maplewood, out of 5,096 ballots cast, McKeon received 4,266 votes and Jasey received 4,248, while Dailey received 437 votes and Tucci received 410; there were 12 write-in votes. In South Orange, out of 3,518 ballots cast, McKeon received 2,965 votes and Jasey received 2,975, while Dailey received 308 votes and Tucci received 292; there were nine write-in votes. Among the write-in votes, one Maplewood resident voted to make South Orange President Sheena Collum an assemblywoman for the 27th District, and one South Orange resident voted to have former South Orange Trustee Deborah Davis Ford fill the seat.
There were two countywide elections, one for county register and one for freeholder at large. In both elections, the Democratic candidates won big.
For county register, out of 91,105 ballots cast, Democrat Juan Rivera Jr. received 58,640 votes, while Republican Kristina Christoforou received 16,378 and independent Joanne Miller received 3,030; there were 78 write-in votes. In this election, the towns of Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, East Orange, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Montclair, Newark, Nutley, Orange, South Orange, Verona and West Orange went Democrat, while Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, Roseland and West Caldwell went Republican.
In Maplewood, out of 5,096 ballots cast, Rivera received 3,773 votes, Christoforou received 433 votes and Miller received 168; there were eight write-in votes. In South Orange, out of 3,518 ballots cast, Rivera received 2,519 votes, Christoforou received 306 and Miller received 106; there were four write-in votes. Among the write-in votes, two Maplewood residents and one South Orange resident voted for NJ 11th for Change activist Saily Avelenda as register, while one Maplewood resident wrote in Kelly Quirk of SOMA Action.
For freeholder, of the 91,105 ballots cast, Democratic incumbent Romaine Graham received 58,876 votes, while Republican Adam Kraemer received 16,794; there were 264 write-in votes. In this election, the towns of Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, East Orange, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Montclair, Newark, Nutley, Orange, South Orange, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange went Democrat, while Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield and North Caldwell went Republican. Roseland was split, with each candidate receiving 620 votes. West Caldwell, which went Republic for county register, went Democrat for freeholder, but the totals were extremely close, with 1,091 for Graham and 1,086 for Kraemer.
In Maplewood, out of 5,096 ballots cast, Graham received 3,704 votes and Kraemer received 498; there were 86 write-in votes. In South Orange, out of 3,518 ballots cast, Graham received 2,466 votes and Kraemer received 341; there were 57 write-in votes. Among the write-in votes, 74 Maplewood residents and 45 South Orange residents wanted Kelly Quirk of SOMA Action to take the open freeholder seat, while one Maplewood voter wrote in Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and one South Orange voter wrote in village President Sheena Collum.
There was also a statewide nonpartisan question for voters to contemplate. Public Question No. 1 asked if voters wanted to amend the state Constitution to allow eligible veterans in continuing care retirement communities to receive the value of the property tax deduction available to veterans who own homes. With this amendment, the continued care retirement community would receive the tax deduction and then pass the value of the deduction on to the residing eligible veterans as a payment or credit. New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported the amendment, with approximately 76 percent voting in favor of it.
In Essex County, with 91,105 ballots cast, 51,695 voters supported the amendment and 9,022 did not. In Maplewood, with 5,096 ballots cast, 2,852 voters supported the amendment and 426 did not, and in South Orange, with 3,518 ballots cast, 2,222 voters supported the amendment and 298 did not.